and wakes in April

All winter the lawn has loafed
under its thick white quilt
and wakes in April, tousle-headed,
crusty-edged, and with the freshest shoots of weeds
curled cheekily in its damp, bare places.

Afternoon sun, a stiff rake,
and the layabout sits, chastened,
scrubbed and alert:
waiting to don a new green suit.

The Travelling Onion

To the Muses, with love, 2005

“And I would never scold the onion
for causing tears.”* The onion does
what it does. We each must live this way.
The small tears you have caused me
the days of laughter
they are of my own making
yet they are yours; you must love the way
you live your life. You must love your own
rich juices, your protective skin, the layers
of your heart revealing
chamber after secret chamber,
the floating centre. You must love
the way your roots have nourished you
and clung to dirt to keep you honest.
Remember your beginnings.
Do not ask me to believe
you are anyone but yourself.

*Naomi Shihab Nye, “The Travelling Onion”, from Yellow Glove, 1986.

Household parade

Like floats in the holding area,
cats sprawl on hardwood, tails
flicking.

Woman puts her feet on the floor,
pushes out of bed, starts
to the hallway, rubbing her tousled head.

Cats leap into formation,
trotting behind, long tails waving,
proud victorious flags.

A poem written under the influence of Billy Collins*

Sitting on the sofa, staring at the perfect flames;
the two cats, having argued over who gets the lap and who
the haunch, now settled in their places;
I’m thinking about a perfect life, which is what this looks like.

Rain drums on the roof and falls in waves from that one place
where the eave is blocked with leaves. I think about the sheep
in the next-door field, and how their wool might smell,
soaked and muddy. Not shorn and washed, combed and spun and dyed,
and in my hands with circular needles
and a simple scarf pattern;
but live and wiry, doing its job: temperature-moderator, dirt-catcher,
bramble-intervenor.

I think of you, and what it means that you are sitting there,
and the scarf in my hands is a gift for you, and the fire
in the hearth is one you laid and lit.
I’m thinking about a perfect life, which is what this looks like.

*Billy Collins is a contemporary American poet, Poet Laureate of the US 2001-2003. I was recently introduced to his work by the enthusiasm of my friends Dove and Lorri, and I am grateful. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billy_Collins