Threading the Lungs

The sun setting behind my shoulders caused the screen to cast a gridded shadow over the pages. Words hopscotched from one tiny golden square to the next while I thought about how unusual it was to have the sun at my back this time of day. Westerly light is warming, sure. Yet it is the east's edge that slices corseted breaths. With long strokes he butters sleeping fields and threads the lungs of pines and oak. And after supper he teases silken indigo between his finger and thumb, gently coaxing the cover for fireflies and french kissing. What is unseen still has an indelible hand. I write around and under and through as it holds me by the throaty gasp.

My bed is busy with books these days. Blankets are heavy with words as they lie undisturbed beneath the weight. Work in the gardens has slowed to a pruning maintenance. What task can now equal the communion of green and black and golden mana? I watch the heron bow into the pewter sky at his feet. Though I am half-hidden, he lets me know I am fully seen. To consider his grace is to also be stunned by one's own recklessness. #sorrynotsorry #thisisme #love

The numbing creek rushes over my feet and around my ankles causing a shackling ache to clamp my bones. The constriction causes a headache as I move with kitten steps over river rock and shards of driftwood. Sometimes it doesn't pay to get your feet wet; sometimes it's more romantic in theory is all I'm saying. But summer does open up all kinds of space that might have been too condensed beforehand. Summer does breed magic and symphonic winds and that ineffable holiness that speaks for us when we cannot tell the truth. Summer can't help herself is what I mean.

Lucille Clifton and Strand and Oliver. Peepers and bats and owls. My spine bends towards the extravagant expanse. How I arch over the marriage of certainty and the lymphatic; how I finally collapse under the cumulous tide of racing clouds against untouchable blue! These are the words that are making room for light. For east. For love.

 

 

Corner to Corner

It wasn't until the storm clouds broke open that I realized I had been waiting for it to rain all day. A long exhale uncoiled as water spill over the eaves. Maybe it is honesty that is missing somewhere and the deficit looks like a smile and well-wishes. The rain curates a surrender – a quiet introspection of that which is not ever said anymore.

On the corner there were two mourners sitting on a patched blanket in front of a post of sorts, decorated with flowers and posters and offerings for someone loved. They were having a small picnic while looking down at their laps, engaging the dead at the last place they were seen alive. A blessing filled all the cracks and spaces in my throat. Yet after passing, a recognition of resemblance sent prickling shockwaves from my chest outward into the tips of existence and back again: I, too, return to the place where I was last alive.

I bring the writing and the conversations and the revelations.

I spread the quilt carefully on the grass as to not damage or kill what is growing.

I cradle the memories and count the connection as real – more real than the fact that I am sitting alone at the altar of my own making.

The red-winged blackbird's trill pierces the moment as he adjusts his balance on the cattail next to the highway on-ramp. And he's on the telephone pole that leans over the train tracks on 40th avenue. And he's sitting on the railing at Mom's house on Gun Lake. And he's at the neighbor's feeder, further in from the marsh than expected. This bird of seasons – here for the warmth, south when it all freezes. Because that is how it is. It's how Michigan is. It's how the living reaps what they can from the conditions of an unpredictable climate for survival's sake.

So maybe maybe I shake the grass and dirt off the bottom of the quilt, and fold its patches onto one another – corner to corner . . .

and maybe take the flowers off the post and set them in the passenger seat

and maybe I go home to put it all away

and work in the yard a bit

and go see a movie

past my bedtime

with my family

and count it all 

as living 

 

 

 

Offerings

The greenhouse work is done and now the days are laced with a sinister ache. I rise early to begin the day with movement and intention and production. Yet, by 10 a.m., claws poke through the upper chest wall, exposing bloodied barbs to the world. And to me. Watering takes time and so does walking with the dog, cleaning this and that, and pulling the never-ending vines that choke out more civilized plants in the yard. But then the day elongates with a nothingness only faintly spotted with reasons to do things. Sleep is dangerous because it is far too easy to carry on a love affair with the black forgetfulness of unconsciousness. If you love me, give me books to read. Good ones. Ones that convert my festering diseases into time well spent.

What images have I built of you and what images have you built of me? The space in between is an interesting interloper. Say hi to her for me.

The dog curls up in the cushioned patio chair from which she can scan most of the quarter-mooned back yard. I see a young rabbit snacking on begonias just out of her view. Another record-breaking heat blankets the day but there is no cell in my body that wishes it away; winter is still so very close. There is less to be worked out, but there is more here. It's what I have to offer.  

 

Ending Pleasure to End Pain

A ghosted brightness flirts through the pines. Moonlight brings it all closer. The last birdsong fades just ahead of distant fireworks. Under the longer legs of summer days, I write west-facing as to feel each ribbon of light as it slips into Lake Michigan. Even at 10 p.m., obscurity is warded off by slight hints of something lighter. Something undefined. Something more blue than black.

Like a new song, our dance is nameless until the end. Maybe the next thinker will have it all figured out – the purpose, the process, the performance. Krishnamurti says that if one can look at all things without allowing pleasure to creep in, without wanting the experience to be repeated, then there will be no pain, no fear and therefore tremendous joy. Ending pleasure to end pain. The whole meaning awaits to be known. I guess that is last lyric to be committed to memory.

The heat climbed into the upper 90's which slowed the work. Tomorrow's heat will lead us to the lake after a long winter of staying far from reminder of what water can do. The boat people will stop by throughout the day and ask for drinks and toilets and lake-like conversation. We will sit on the dock and stir the water with our feet and walk back and forth to the house in consummate hospitality. How the day will burn.

In the room of windows off the back of the house, turkish lights are strung in scalloped dips from corner to corner. Night frogs and crickets crescendo and fall as if they were purring, asking me to sleep. Maybe I no longer want what I don't have. Maybe I forget the rest. And maybe the hazy, sultry truth is a mirage rising in the heat of that which I knew would return.

 

 

 

 

Tulips and Thistle

The shadow of tree buds stencil dawn against the moon. Birds begin to percolate, seemingly off in a westerly direction. 4 a.m. is not so dark.

Blushing layers become the gradient departure of night. At work, pink geranium petals fall into my hair. After taking off my shirt to shower, I find a few florid stowaways nestled in my cleavage. Soft against soft. A sweetness. Here against there. Before it's fully dawn I water the new shrubs at the back fence line.

It's cold enough for a fire. All night long a mole in the window-well chews through the new screen. We need to work something out if we are both to live in these overlapping circles.

With my hands in my dirt, a greater fidelity – an opening to that which connects to every thing. The girl said: let's just be friends. And the boy cried all night long. Tulips and thistle, no matter where we find ourselves.

Without the greenhouse work, familiar tentacles sidle and curl around the breastplate. This living parasite demands a name before its annihilation but it's hard to look at it. Rather, I can't see it. Or both. Of what import is the existence of one who only tends their own kingdom? Of what value?

Cold rain is expected all week, therefore yard work yields to internal matters. Dogs and meals and broken-hearted children wait for resolution. Lily of the Valley arrives, blooms, and fills everything I can think about with redolence. Spring opens but keeps a sweatshirt handy at all times.

Each year is different. Each month, each day. And so am I.

 

 

 

Gifts to Transfer

Sunday opens under mosaic cloud cover – a tender gray gilded with May's light. My body aches after pulling, digging, and cutting overgrown ivy from the weakening privacy fence. An old wagon wheel rimmed in rusted iron leans up against the fence causing the slats to bow. I work around it because it is significantly heavier than it looks! We moiled in the yard as a family to cultivate beauty. The boys took down the rotting picket fence on the side yard and dug new holes for posts. Lex and I hauled dirt to bare roots and removed broken concrete found under ivy overgrowth. The sun was fiery and for the first time in 20 years, I wore a tank top and shorts outdoors. I'm getting stronger, you see.

In the quiet of tea, I watch a mourning dove pick the grass seed I just spread. This part of spring feels so much like a season of gifting: hostas grow inches right in front of you, the tulips polk-a-dot the entire crescent-shaped yard with yellows and reds, and the birds sing around your sleep. It reminds me that I have gifts to give, gifts to transfer.

After all the work, we shower and go see the new Avengers movie. I can feel the day's efforts pool into my back but even the ache feels satisfying. A 12- hour greenhouse shift the day before mixes a high of sorts with utter exhaustion. All this movement for the body, my body – I really am alive. Mostly.

Bumble bees keep hitting the dining room window, jolting me from daydreams. I gaze out into the east, into the rising sun, into the light that opens me. Images, reflections, observations, ideas. What if I was close enough to smell your shirt? Let me see what it means to be without words.

The oriole sing-songs from a hidden place. What happens now? I leave the lights off and sit in stillness as long as possible. Soon enough the work on the fence will continue. And grocery shopping. And the greenhouse. But for now, the present has a serenade. 

What Fits

After deep winter nights, the stars begin to reel for attention. A crisp moon slices its way into the bedroom, telling tall tales of skinny dipping in summer lakes and stolen kisses just beyond the bonfire light. In the backyard, color begins to sway. Bluebells spread around the daffodil's late arrival, and the scent of hyacinth overpowers the tang of fresh soil. It is still colder than expected for almost May. But at least, daffodils. And this way of saying, “hey...”

The yard progresses now. Weekends are spent spreading dirt and planting. Frost warnings slow it all down. We do the work of springtime, but for whom? The manicuring of our existence benefits selfish delights. I am aware of how much more this land could be and in this way, the work is sometimes tainted.

A clear night is shattered by the pulsing dawn. I wake with a sore throat and a fever. When I am sick, he holds me and it makes me feel like I never want to let him down. But I will. With no otherwise, I watch the bluest sky blaze throughout the day from my bedroom window. Cardinals, sparrows, and jays at play. The neighbor kids exchange their Sunday best for play clothes. Kyle works on the sprinklers. From my bed, the patience of a puzzle teaches me what fits. And what doesn't. Yet I want the whole picture – the picture surrounding the picture.

Before her gig, I saw the color scuffed off her combat boots. Dad taught me how to properly shine a shoe and I'm good at it. With each swipe of the buffing brush, I felt myself letting her go. I knelt over the boots in order to shine with the correct force. And even though there is no god to hear my prayer, I felt the orison leave my heart and exit my proud mouth. She moves out soon and with the weight of the day pressing down on my blankets, I wonder what kind of vastness can grow in its stead.

 

 

 

Red is Red

The mystical has elongated into an underground frost. I walk around on the surface as if a daffodil is just a daffodil. The cardinal never seems to pace – he arrives, perches, surveys, and moves on. Red is red and not delusional about significance at all.

Snow falls on itself this late in the game. When spring arrives, I think I shall swallow the moon and walk around all glowy. Where the deck once was, mud and remnants from another time. Broken concrete piles into a pyramid under the white pine. When I asked about the opossum that lived under the deck, the man quipped: do you really want to know? In this marriage, there are a million things that work well and only a few that do not. Giving the nod and wink to remove the opossum is an undigestible bullet rattling around a rusting bucket.

BBQ pulled pork, garlic butter potatoes, and a spinach/romaine salad. The snow is leaving and perhaps by tomorrow the sun will arrive to tempt the tulips. A tiny wren hops about the new dirt, barely leaving tracks. Small things wend a way for love.  

 

 

Tangled for a Moment

Robins gather in the rain around a boulder in the backyard. And finally – crocus! The bark of the trees is stained on one side as an April wind bullies from the west. My daffodils have not bloomed but their green torsos now stand up from dormancy. The creek overflows and water keeps falling and moving and making a way. One sentence after the next, putting in the work of saying nothing again. Are you here yet?

Waking to sleet tapping at the single pane windows. The dog and I make coffee and a fire before anyone stirs. She curls in front of the fireplace like my favorite gingersnap comma. I'm happy when she's happy; that's the way love works.

And when I fell, he ran up the stairs and called out to me. I could hear him but couldn't answer. How tenderly he saves me every time – love works that way too.

A large pot of chili simmers throughout the storm. This snow and ice sets back my planting plans. I spend the day in the kitchen cooking for the week, stopping occasionally to spy on the sparrows visiting the new feeder for the first time. The robins are getting so fat, despite winter's effort to remain. Hot tea, curry chicken salad, and romaine – love wends a way in the bowls we serve.

The plants saved from the dumpster at the greenhouse are now planted and tended, awaiting better conditions. The pots take up space all around the dining room table and they make me supremely happy. Certain letters are never written, but that is love, too. Do you see?

By late afternoon, there is a lull in the storm. Ice melts off the roof and the old Subaru and the gazebo out back. L decides to sing Winehouse's “Back to Black” at the gig, after a few saxophone features. How worlds cross. How time stutters a bit. How we love our children even though they rise and dissipate into the world like winter woodsmoke tangled in pines for a moment.

I stoke the fire and remember January. I fold the clothes and remember vows. I take a nap and dream of the lake that calls for me. Love is like that too, you know?

 

 

There is No Otherwise

 

The first storm of April barrels through the dinner hour. Snow to thunder to daffodils to rain – Michigan is far from neutral most days. I take tea in the darker hour and hold the numen with both hands. Lips to rim to tea to mouth – the same thought arises every time and I swallow that too.

Morning unfurls a new coverlet of snow. It's a surprise after tending flower shoots and raking leaves on Easter. A fat robin joggles left and right through the deepening layers on the deck. Every year this happens after the softening begins. After the plans for gardens and dirt. After the thaw.

I cannot change my previous path. Yet, would I, if given the chance? I am fully me in any given moment and for reasons I cannot understand, there is no otherwise. At the bookstore today I remembered my affection for field guides. Did you know that the Cardinal flower can only be pollinated by hummingbirds or that the seeds of the Spotted Touch-Me-Not explode and spread in all directions when even slightly brushed? The books become my wildflowers. The image and the words and the weight make do. And I'm going to touch those seeds when I see them because that is me.

In tomorrow's greenhouse, I won't feel the winter or even think on its reluctance to leave. We'll ship the Night Sky petunias and fill bay #6 with begonias and pour dirt into 1000 flats before noon. In tomorrow's greenhouse, I will work hard and sweat through my shirt and sew hopefulness into a million emissaries I will never see again. My fingernails will be stained with soil and its black dust will cover all the freckles on my skin. In tomorrow's greenhouse, I will not think on past paths or how I will touch those who should not be touched; I'll just be Jessica in her own skin making the world a tiny bit greener. That is enough.

What if and Why Not

Lately, words in small bits.

Work in the greenhouse speeds up in a way that makes everything at home slow down. But the deck will be rebuilt and the fencing is to be repaired and the land needs more dirt, more “black gold” as they say around here. Dawn hints behind the tree line as I wait to be touched by light. The dog nudges the bend in my knee to go out – to pursue the rabbit and squirrels and Purrrl, the neighbor's cat, that she will never catch. It's like that, you know?

The unnamed swelling softens a familiar resolve. This morning's nuthatch, tufted titmouse, and lady cardinal jitter attention away from the vanishing blue stain of night. They say snow today. I will be cold in the dress I'm wearing to the wedding. Maybe I'll paint my fingernails black to hide the dirt that won't come out. Maybe I'll have wine and dance, or maybe I'll just get sleepy and walk around the edges the room looking at ghosts. I'd take a picture to share, but, you know. . . 

Etudes, concertos and Heiden's Sonata. Saxophones and hours and auditions. Her playing touches a deep well of pride and maybe ripples with jealousy. I wonder what if and why not. My daughter's passion and joy makes me a believer.

cap and gown / celebrate / Mayo Clinic

recollect / wait / move out

lily-born / my little girl / a star

Meanwhile, curried rice with peas and carrots, ginger tea, and haiku. The manuscript is ready, save for a title. My hardest part. I've been embraced and brought to the balcony overlooking the city. I'm too strong to be pushed now, but never strong enough to break away from the deep gaze into smoldering heat. When I'm honest, I know its all going to be left in ashes.

Rain turning to snow. The black dress feels good on me; I think it will be a fun night.

 

 

 

Pretty with a Bow

When a writer uses a certain turn of phrase or coalesces pieces of thought and experience into intoxication, am I devastated by the being or by the craft? I melt away under the text – paralyzed by the paradox of feeling pliable yet alive in a new and different way. If I saw you on the street or bumped into you in the market, your arms loaded with sacks of food for your family, would I give my Michigan “ope! Sorry!” and touch you arm on my way around, and think: whoa, holiness abounds? Instead, winter's celibacy. My own words. My own craft.

Black coffee, a bitter night in my mouth. I become accustom to the restlessness that agitates before spring. Nights are chopped up with fidgety legs and vivid thoughts. Owls and other noises ask for a part in the drama. 2 a.m. and then 3. The body resists a logical need for sleep and restoration. I resist the resistance. Magnesium, calming oils, a droll podcast. The Sun magazine. Nisargadatta. White embroidery on the navy quilt. Plans to add perennials with more color. No rest for the wicked, they say. I'm okay with that. 

With dawn, the end of choices –

{Ginger tea, yoga bra and shorts, wake the kids. Supplements, pack lunch, and stretch the back, hamstrings and hips for 30 minutes. Hug and kiss the kids goodbye, eat breakfast, brush my teeth, and put on work clothes. Pull back my hair, load up the car, pour more tea, wave to Kyle at the bottom of the stairs.}

And then, drive to work.

I stack the days like cards and voice my displeasure when the dealer gets out of hand. The manuscript sits, crying out: S.O.S. I'll wrap it up, pretty with a bow. But if you could have a hand in it, would you want to?

Instead, wine and Wheezer by myself.

The end isn't the end, ya know? 

 

 

 

 

 

Electric Blue

March is anything but flat! Spring one day; winter the next. Garden plans stagger drunkenly home. To zip the cowl of the jacket around my neck is to also think about being pulled closer, a hand pressing against my pale throat, with the forefinger and thumb tightening along my jawline. A hitch in my breath. Are you with me?

The road is always here, gathering the intentions of travelers and collecting the last efforts of every season. Soon enough the path will swoon with leggy grasses and lilies maybe. The bridges will cup chattering streams and the water will birth the fascination of those that cannot stay away. Walk with me.

My new shoes are for the greenhouse work. To save my back. To save the world. Electric blue. Beyond. Write it down. Fall in. Stay under with me, okay?

I may be unbearable – my shoulders and back – the flame of my breath – the pace at which I lean in to press on the sore places.

Yet if you tell me you saw the sparrows, the color of branches, lined up on the wire on Main Street

or that you drank whiskey in the hayloft with the ghosts of your grandfather

or you heard my name clinging to sunrise as it spread across the frosted meadow unto your kitchen window pane

then, we would kiss a little

and remove our winter coats

to welcome the unraveling  

of spring 

 

 

 

Soon Is

Michigan remains. White pines, sand dunes, and the first thawing trill of returning red-winged blackbirds. Hardy yet shifting – this land is a migrant of season and harbinger of change. And there is always water.

A fresh snowfall to cover brave shoots of daffodil and crocus. This time of year always spurs an affection towards renewal. Please send sun!

The greenhouse fills and fills, and I am aware of every plant. Thousands of times a day, my fingers invest deeply into pillowy dirt, soft enough to blow away with a sneeze. Geranium, licorice, bacopa. Fuschia, petunia, vinca. This job of adding plants into the world is medicinal. In this work, forgiveness, beauty, and grace.

Soon, a new deck and restored fencing. Soon, manicured walking paths and mulch and fresh dirt. Soon, to scrape the remnants of a long hard winter into brown bags and compost corners and yard waste bins. Soon is hope. Soon is the lavender wreath on my gray front door. Soon is treating the wounds of winter with a salve found in the renewal of what is meant to be. This is how love remains . . . in the blackbird wings of almost here.

 

 

 

A Moment's Economy

Tonight's moon brings about the pangs of spring. I remember several nights when we carried moonlight on our backs unto dawn. To be in love is not real. To be driven by elation and desire is madness. These and other statements corroborated by the passing light of March's first moon.

The snow is gone but will return in a bit. This is the way Michigan prepares for robins, fawns and fireflies. Yet in the greenhouse, we push and coax and foster life with our own bodies. Each day, we fill bays and hang baskets. We plant and pour dirt. Prune and heal. And each day, my back breaks and legs give way. To the other.

“Sometimes we must destroy a village to save it,” the woman said. I hate her less now for saying it, but I can not agree. Perhaps I have been saved, but in a moment's economy, that means nothing.

In Ohio, crocus and bees. We've not yet sprouted this far north. But my shoulders are stronger and almost ready for the earth work. The dog won't be cuddled or pet before breakfast. She simply cannot.

Beauty is calling; I feel her. Reading, writing, waiting. Wanting? Walking, remembering, and the ability to right one's self. I do miss the together feeling of 3 a.m., or was it 4? The moon passes through the oak and maple but gets caught in the backyard pines. By this paragraph, a new day. Light from the East recommends peace.

Peace be with you.

 

 

 

 

On and On and On

White on white on white – I shuffle up the street and notice all the windows winking icicle eyelashes my way. It is easy to think that winter is softening after spending all day in the greenhouse, planting, cutting, and eating dirt. Yet still, snow falls on snow. And ice grows from soffits and spigots. In single digit temperatures, the snow squeaks under my boots as I force sore muscles to move into that which is difficult. Maybe there is something to the rejection of comfort. Maybe there are many things to reconsider. The road barely rises, but it turns and turns and turns.

The writing lately oozes like blackstrap molasses – darker, thicker, slow in coming. But by the time it reaches the tongue, it satisfies with a bittersweet melt. How else is winter endured except for the imaginings of crocus or fresh-picked blueberries or a meeting on that old trail you always used to talk about? Jacket on sweatshirt on t-shirt on bra.

The chickadee percolates on the heavy pine branch, knocking off snow here and there. He sees me seeing him, at the table the with tea and books and tissues. I asked him where the cardinals are lately but his response is flight. My friends are vacationing in warm places and posting pictures of dancing with Dominicans and naked feet and water for miles. Hot water on ginger tea on Stevia on Japanese tea cups.

The neighborhood unrolls with daylight and like the universe, its contents are only fathomable with arbitrary measures and designs. I'm not counting on anyone to explain it anymore. Just walk with me in the continuous, away from the mind and its treacherous games. Treads on snow on squeak on ears on walk on white on white on white.

 

 

A Church Never Refused

Fifty degrees breaks a fast, unlocking the appetites of spring for a moment. Yet, after only two days of balmy reprieve, it feels like a betrayal when wind slips past one's jacket and under the shirt. Sleety fingernails screech down the bedroom window and I stare at it – waiting in the same place for a different result. Or though it seems, just before February.

But next week, the greenhouse work. I register the juxtaposition of two seasons separated by a thin, plastic sheet. The next morning, winter's new lace has me dressing for a church I can never refuse. But in the greenhouse, dirt and humidity. When clumsy snow melts off the vented roof, awareness of winter's parallel universe breaches what is. Every day is a greenhouse day, in that, one can always be pulled from one moment into another, aware of resistance and comfort and things that cannot be sutured, even for logic's sake.

Do you love when you are not in love? Are elements missing from the room? A sunrise meditation unhinges the soul from the imaginings of the body, and it all begins to coalesce or brim or swim in the essence of a secret. And we who meet in this secret follow the trail back to our very first poem, the first inkling of the honorable scandal contained within all of life. We take the path in order to be liberated from the destination. That is it!

So to stay at the beginning, through memory and longing, is to be mired by the end. For a freer now, it is better to be aware of worlds coming into one another, weaving new variations on love.

with me –
the shy joy
of eclipse

 

 

Map to Immortality

Day begins in an ordinary dark. Remnants of dreams suggest that no one can free you except yourself. It makes sense at 4 a.m., but the tangle of day knots another narrative altogether. You turn the light on and wait in bed for the next directive: feed the dog, take your pills, make breakfast, prod the teenagers to life. Earl Grey tea and apple slices. You sit to write but remember that you know nothing. The edges of words become mushy and their meanings matter even less. Instead, stacks of reading. You remember Nisargadatta and Singh and the other guru who knows the way home, yet has never seen how you are changed and satisfied in his company. Glittering dawn breaks through after a seamless gray. Nothing is a mistake unless repeated. So, a new way? Sunlight spies on you through the french door windows as you watch black squirrels kick snow all along the fence line. Finger-smudged light switches; dishes in the sink. Curry is the spice of life! From table to couch to bed to sink, you work and pace and settle and think. You sing “Zombie” in honor of the departed and play air drums and guitar at all the right parts. The snow plow rattles the windows as it makes it way around the cul-de-sac. There is no more longing for spring, only survival. Only this. The shower is a retreat from freezing, and the water's rhythm soothes the rough edges. You wash the body with slow care – a gentle departure from the rush of completing the day's tasks. Geranium Lime essential oil, purple underwear, black bra, jeans and a tired hoodie with loose threads on the sleeve. Socks, Adidas. The day is half gone but you are newer than that. You are wondering and awake – doing the right thing for each moment – being effortless, for a time anyway. A sprig of lavender is pressed as far into the crease as possible. Page break. Do you know that I nominated that poem for its map to immortality? Dinner, dishes, and the family's diaspora. You crawl into bed to part with the day. And the dreams, they lead back to you.

Arriving Off Book

In late afternoon, a fog weaves through the leggy limbs of backyard pine and oak. So close and low, weighted with woodsmoke, I want to touch it. You, born of winter, what do you see?

There was a certain mastery in the beginning – an ease of openness, a pure stone awaiting its name. Now, there is only a white path deep through the woods, softening unto the earth. The melt arrives off book, off calendar. I open the windows to air out the house. For the first time in weeks, the smell of dirt and pine and wet bark. I gather it and rise. 

Notes and letters bridged a second path, another life, all those days ago. It isn't too difficult to go about one's day in absentia. Perhaps the calling will always be that of a missionary: here and not, a conduit to another way. I was possessed by it all though, you know?

now I am grounded
like red wine
spilled

aimless
but not

lost

Opossum tracks glisten like little stars in the vanishing ice. I watch them walk away for hours and am satisfied when they disappear. While we sleep, everything will be replenished – snow, ice, tracks – the collusion says “now” and “not now.” What cannot be said remains and therefore, the metaphors stretch out longingly and abysmally and infinitely. We parted company in the mirror, you and I.

It's easier to say nothing – to work hard at going nowhere. The seeds become wet in all this receding and they begin swell in the feeder as the fog roils with a winter's intensity. Crossed legged, simple hearted, I have no questions to ask and no thing to offer –

 

except

maybe

this

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strip Already

 

No birds at the feeder; no rabbit tracks leading away from the deck. That there is shelter should be grace enough. How bare simplicity speaks in the strictest economy.

When it is this cold, one has to move to avoid the deep sleep that pools below the surface of things. Secular thoughts grow best in this garden of survival, or so it seems that they stretch across the skin in an effort to conserve heat. One deliberate step in front of the other in snow this deep. There is no quiet in that. Only work.

Naked saints lead to full contact. How they strip matters not to the bluejays or the cardinals, nor do the birds care what happens under the drifts. So just strip already.

before the gray
becomes a lake again
undress

Cold columns of wind plate ice onto the inside of the windows. Soup mutters on the stove. Bread swells in the oven. How winter swaddles the loose and restless yearning for April!

A thin band of sunlight breaks through just long enough for a thought. A holy hitch triggers an avalanche of gratitude. Yes, January stings. But where men's eyes cannot see, the remnants of last year gives way to whatever is next. Begin again. And again. What choice is there?