tanka

tanka--
small songs I sing
to join
my voice to other voices
hidden in the grass

Thursday, January 18, 2018

trees in winter



filaments of snow 
       drifting sideways 
                 on the wind--        
                            old pines 
                                     shed their ghosts
                                                                     
                                    ~tinywords 17.1, 2017

the oak stands
stripped to its bare bones
half the year—
I lay my naked words
in homage at its root



beech leaves
clinging past midwinter
sing on the breeze
there is only the dance
of sunlight and shadow

~Ribbons 13:2, spring/summer 2017 




Saturday, January 6, 2018

safely delivered



Printed in 1725 and thicker than my hand is broad, the leather-bound Bible that once belonged to my grandmother contains several cracked and yellowed pages closely written on both sides in faded brown ink, the entries dating back to 1699.  The ink has bled through the thin paper, which is torn and mended in several places with cloudy tape.  I photograph the pages with my iPhone and enlarge the images, laboriously transcribing as much as I can. 

Here is my ancestor Elizabeth, married on August 20, 1717 ‘old stile.’  In the next twenty years she bore thirteen children—seven of them born dead. Her granddaughter, also called Elizabeth, married a lieutenant in the 55th Regiment of the British Army and sailed with him from New York to Ireland and back again.  Widowed with at least three children, she later remarried.  An oil portrait of her second husband, in powdered hair and flowing cravat, hangs on the wall behind me. One forefinger marks his place between the pages of a half-closed book. 

a brittle history
of baptism and burial—
the refrain
        thanks be to god
 in a spidery hand



~Skylark 4:2, Winter 2016

Thursday, December 21, 2017

solstice fires

solstice fires
burn the old year’s dross
to ash . . .
the raven’s cry
like smoke on the wind


~red lights 13:2, June 2107

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

the galloping years

my mother’s voice
reciting The Highwayman
by moonlight
the gleam of a dark red love-knot,
the clatter of galloping years



poplar leaves
already freckled
with age
I pen an elegy
in elderberry ink

~Moonbathing 17, fall/winter 2017


finding I’ve shrunk
by an inch and a half . . .
yet the mountains
of my inner island
still converse with sky

~hedgerow 122, winter 2017-8

  


Sunday, December 10, 2017

Roots



The old sugar maple at the southeast corner of the house had been declining for two years, and despite a wet summer its canopy was brown and bare long before autumn.  Yesterday, men with chain saws took it down limb by limb, leaving a gaping hole in the sky where the tree’s green depths once harbored hummingbirds. On winter nights I used to look out at its windswept branches, combed by fingers I never saw.

moon shadows
on the window pane 
. . . the silver
of my mother’s hair 
fresh-washed in death



Friday, December 1, 2017

quicksilver



autumn harvest  . . .
moldering hay bales
sprout new grass
even as the whetted scythe 
mows down the years

no one
told me of his death,
the last
of my mother’s siblings . . .
ripples on the pond’s dark eye

the moon
so far beyond my reach
and yet I drink
from its reflection
this dipperful of light

other mothers’
diamond brooches . . .
I buff
the mossy jadestone
of her silver-legged frog



~Ribbons 12:1, Winter 2016

Monday, November 27, 2017

earthstrings




in a string
of starry lapis blue,
god
is the dappled dzi bead
earth-toned and warm




the fingers
of a blind harper
touching
the earthstrings at dawn . . .
a wood thrush answers