The world, on the page

The world in the hours before dawn is rich with story. In the dark, eyes closed, cat purring in my lap, my mind fills with words I must write, jewels tumbling from the place where imagination is born: overflowing my palms, spilling from my fingers to the page.

~~~

Poems from novels-in-progress

It should not surprise me that each of my novels has a poem at its core.

And “each of my novels” means the one I am writing now, and the three that are waiting in my journal for their turn.

One of those still in the journal has the working title Sky+Moon—which, yes, is bad but will lead to something better—and these two work-in-progress poems. (Which, yes, are also straight from the roughest of rough notes, but ya gotta dance with who brung ya.)

I
When I see you
your fine chin and your
broad shoulder, the curved line
of your waist and the sway
of your hip, your long arms and strong
legs—with their hands and their
feet dancing through air as you
walk
toward me,

my heart

leaps the space between
us, before my body and
my head have known
what they must do

II
Lie beside me on the shaded grass
your head on my shoulder
the sun on our feet,
lie here and I will tell you
the story of our lives, when you
are my beloved and I hold you finely
as the sky does the moon.

~ ~ ~

1998

The year you died the rain fell frozen in weeping sheets
Breaking the boughs and the backs of the trees
All of us hunched over our aching hearts
It’s taken 20 years for the forest to regrow
And here we are
In another winter storm
Ice-burdened again
Yet patched as time will do
Ruined limbs amputated
Spines haltingly unfurled

 

~~~

This morning at the farms along the road

Twelve wild turkeys on their barnyard tour lumber from the woods
a haphazard file of sumptuous brown bodies pulled by naked heads and red chins
across the farmhouse lawn to the spot where chicken feed lies scattered every morning
they begin determined digging

Five black-and-white spotted cows and a brown sprawl on the thick hay pile that rises
from the snow and two more sleep standing with early spring sun heating their backs
one lying at the edge wakes and chews turning her large white-patched eye
to watch the foot traffic

Four horses stand under thick red blankets munching hay
heads bent to the ground and tails rarely twitching as it is still too cool
for bugs but even in the safety of the yard their lead mare lifts her brown head
and flares her nose watching long minutes for threats from across the field

Two black furry puppies with floppy ears and strong short legs
bark and run fast and free of any fear almost tripping
down the hill to waggle their muscular bodies in a yipping welcome
of a friend climbing the path

One cinnamon Labrador falls to the battered wooden floor of the old milk house
rhythmically thumping her tail on the boards and baring her belly for a long rub
she lifts her head for a close and steady gaze
licking the wrist of the hand that pats her

Two young huskies lie behind their fence breathing the cold air after their second
morning walk and five horses in the next field look up at the sound of footsteps on the road
at a passing shadow a chipmunk darts into the stone fence while the red squirrel
chats a warning from high in the bare maple

In the house a ladybug clinging at the water line sips from the cats’ bowl
bread cooling on the counter fills the air with its light baked yeasty smell
the eggs are washed and gleaming in their soft shades of brown and green
the world proceeds with its small rituals

~~~

This hush

Late-winter evening, a light snow,
6:30 on the first day
after the clocks spring ahead

standing on the road below my house
surrounded by fields, woods
and a profound quiet

my ears throb with stillness and a faint ring
from the city traffic I’ve left behind
for minutes no other sound comes by

I listen beneath soft flakes
in a luminous glow
of muted afternoon sun on snow

then solitary barking carries over far fields
brief squawking rises from the trees
down the long trail of the road

around the bends
an engine slowly draws near
and yet I hear

this
hush

~~~

When he was a little boy … Elliott’s 15th-birthday poem

When he was a little boy
he’d whisper
in his mother’s ear

(Do you remember?)

Standing close, beside her chair,
softly,
so no one could hear.

“Tell them yourself!”
his mom would urge,
when he’d whisper
in her ear.

But he’d just shake
his auburn curls,
softly,
so no one could hear.

Now he is a grown up boy,
standing tall and speaking loud.

He does interesting things
that get him noticed in a crowd!

Teaching tiny kids to ski,
sometimes he has to speak up loud.

And it’s not just anybody
who can play keyboard
for a Blues Fest crowd!

He’s a nice lad to be around,
standing tall and speaking loud.

And when his parents look at him
you can tell
they are so proud.

But

we do miss that little boy,
speaking so no one can hear.

We like to think
he’s in there still,
whispering
in his big boy’s ear.

~~~

To hear this poem read aloud, play the Evernote audio file