Suns to Store and Hoard

from Almost Everything, Almost Nothing

new hampshire 009.jpg


September light slides like honey
through tuscan curtains.
Your hand on my hip,
           I wake in the slow dawn —
warm, the bed where we lie.

Goldfinches squabble in butterscotch leaves
of the oak, tug petals from paling zinnias.
           Caramel-colored shadows shift.
Bumblebees have vanished,
delighting in lands of pineapples, bananas.

But here, lemon-colored kayaks racked,
poplars and butternut wrinkle from green to gold,
mustard and flax beckoning . . . .
           Sighing, you turn, hand tightening,
keeping me from the fall.

Field Without Flowers: Dream Sequence 2

from Almost Everything, Almost Nothing

Summer hums the field,
haze hanging over chicory, switchgrass
like drifting question marks.
Water’s rising in Texas
while I pray for rain in Tennessee.
In yellow poplars, crows chuckle,
chickadees chattering around the barn
where hornets murmur, shape a home
under stripped and peeling wood.
Clouds stack, and still the hum
seeps through the air, my skin.
When I turn, you wait on the steps,
ripples of longing between us.

A Story Travels in One Direction

from Almost Everything, Almost Nothing

He always knew he’d leave her,
like green leaching from September’s trees,
hydrangea-blue webbed with brown veins.
Helicopter seeds eclipse the last gasp of roses,
dogwoods bruised with blood-red berries.

Long, slow summer, shielded with shade,
his hands trace whispers across her skin.
But dusk nips and hay spills from barns,
sheep bleating. Rain hazes the horizon.

Folded in dreams, night thrives,
stars cushioned in darkness,
ravens veiled by branches, shadow.
When she wakes, her flesh will tingle
in the still-stirring air.

Light, Breaking

from Almost Everything, Almost Nothing

Lavender lights the vineyard —
shadows purpling green, tendrils
just beginning to rise.

Your voice still in my heart,
I jog past the fence, the horses,
burnished with dawn.

Day lilies yawn and stretch,
hummingbirds nuzzling sweet centers
of honeysuckle, columbine.

Field furrowed, I shape my thoughts
into such precise rows, ignore
the twinge in my side.

You are ever at the edge
of my vision like a breeze rustling,
tapping the trees. A song

lifting to the clouds, spiraling
into nothingness.

Litany of Hours

Florida flowers

Florida flowers

     from The Perfume of Leaving

Long after my grandmother died
I learned her language of growing things.
Lantana, aralia thrived under her touch.
She never sang, but I heard her urging
the hibiscus, the canna lilies,
Birds of Paradise so high
they thrashed the house during storms.

She never cried, never offered a shoulder
when I burbled into tears,
only glanced my way with a frown,
resumed swirling sauce, grating mozzarella. 
Late afternoons, sunlight draped the lanai
before she tucked her curls into a latex cap, 
settled into the pool when we wearied
of splashing around.

Weekdays, Grandma’s navy suit still crisp
when she returned those long Florida evenings
from a litany of hours transcribing,
she and daylight wandered among bursts
of flower pots topped with water,
shears ready to clip the strays.

My thumb doesn’t have her gift for green.
Longings don’t surge
through my fingers to touch seedlings
so they sprout, nurtured by a lifetime
of yearning that never spoke a word.

The Garonne

             from The Perfume of Leaving

The Garonne River, Auvillar, France

The Garonne River, Auvillar, France

When I let the river answer
     instead of the tolling bell
          that measures each breath of my day—

          instead of deep basses, chattering
      grunts and squeals of frogs
that echo my busy thoughts—

When I let the river answer
     instead of the wind fussing grasses,
          sun targeting some things, leaving others in shadow—

          When the cottonwoods sigh their blooms— 
     When beaver dams dry high on the banks—
When poplars scribble green across the sky—

 ripples soften time's illusions,
    wavelets lapping legato, largo
         fluid and static, a center, balance restored

Lament

Tennessee winter

Tennessee winter

     from The Perfume of Leaving

River slices the gorge, rock stacked
like beehives on both sides of the bank. 
Icy water spills from mountain top,  
and we pause to seek the sun, pale and high, 
between branches scraping winter blue.

Day lengthens but we don’t speak,
hike instead through crisp leaves
and withered apples, snow capping  
everything woolly white.

You empty your pack by pine–bristled outcrop,
boots steady on the edge of stone.
Never glancing at me, you unseal and tilt
the jar. Sharp wind tears at our backs, 
steals ash and bone, flings it into the void.

 

Wanted: New Heart

from The Perfume of Leaving

Dawn’s breath pinks the sky,
a delicate yawn of gold and orange
as fog shifts the valley.
Yesterday’s rain wrinkled the lake,
clouds veiling the mountain,
sailboats, kayaks shored
as last leaves fall. Sun slants lower,
spring as far away as those we forget.
These sharp days pierce my skin,
memories of flaming maples
haunting the honeycombs.

New Hampshire sunrise

New Hampshire sunrise

What Comes of Waiting

from What Comes of Waiting

Vermont twilight.

Vermont twilight.

The moth-hour has come,
nutshells fleck the yard
and steam swirls from asphalt
after late rain — a veil
between mountaintop and valley.
Ghost-like wings pearl the darkness,
wind spiraling over barberry and jessamine.

Love and death come on nights like this –
a coolness crackling the air,
sizzle of hope, dread in the owl’s sigh.
The spit of rain as it holds back
the moth-flickering moment
before drifting away.

Song of Sorrow

from What Comes of Waiting

January snowstorm.  

January snowstorm.

 

Cup full and flooding, grief kaleidoscopes
into a symphony of pain.
Violins sculpt the melody of loss,
chords kissing the air, my soul.
Cellos linger in a harmony of need,
bass strings throb, my broken
prayer taking shape — scattered notes
forming into one bright, bitter berry,
untasted, unwanted,
trembling until the music fades.

Stringing Bees

from What Comes of Waiting

Outer Banks, North Carolina.

Outer Banks, North Carolina.

Sunlight dazzles the lake like a field of bees
sipping its purling surface, wavelets fading
into the water lilies softening the shore.

Again you are not here.
A lacewing butterfly brushes purple loosestrife,
lingers, and I wonder
if you would have held my hand.
A fishing boat drones past,
smoke graying, choking the air
before dissolving to nothingness.

Rhododendron veils the house,
gathers me in shadowy patches of green,
and honeysuckle drifts the breeze.
Light flares, bounces across the water.

Tea cup forgotten on the bench,
I half-close my eyes: glowing specks morph
into golden strings of bees pulsing through time,
stitching us together.

Wolf Moon

from Fragments of Light

The moon howls its rings
as it tracks the trees, stalks
bare branches of red
maples, chasing scarecrow
shadows across the yard.

Leaves crunch underfoot
as I trek to the lake. Brief barks
from the other side, then silence.

The overturned skiff trembles
like an exposed rabbit
on the shore, gray timber nuzzling
sand, water snapping wood.
Light scatters darkness,

keen for the hunt.

London on a January night. Wolf Moon waxing.

London on a January night. Wolf Moon waxing.

Watching the Breakers

                                -- after Winslow Homer

from Fragments of Light

Salt spray spatters
my face, and I scramble
farther up the rocks,
away from the changing tide.
Gray clouds tumble into the churning
water – black then tossing white.
Margaret holds to the water,
follows it back and forth
back and forth –
a little closer each time,
skirt hem damp
bare legs crusted with salt
yellow hair escapes
from tugging scarf.

I holler over wind and surf
but she doesn’t hear. Once,
she glanced up and I motioned
her in. She turned from me
from the shore,
opened her arms
embraced the sea.

Smerwick Harbor, Dingle, Co Kerry, Ireland. March twilight.

Smerwick Harbor, Dingle, Co Kerry, Ireland. March twilight.

Harvest Moon

from Fragments of Light

Three Sisters, Dingle, Co Kerry, Ireland. June afternoon.

Three Sisters, Dingle, Co Kerry, Ireland. June afternoon.

Ragged stalks burr the dirt,
scraps fallen from tractors,
abandoned by hands that came
behind. Moonlight voids night,
floods the dusking field, hours
before bursting, ripe.

Spider spirals gather dew, thread
through asters and bedded morning
glories, wink at the moon, rival
the stars. Barns gorge with hay,
pumpkins spill onto dance floors.
An owl swivels its ruff,

last gasp of summer.

Desire

from Fragments of Light

Cemetery between Castlemain and Inch, Co Kerry, Ireland. March morning.

Cemetery between Castlemain and Inch, Co Kerry, Ireland. March morning.

Beauty. The lake lies still before me.
Silence. I drift on currents of air.

I want to glide on ripples of water,
swim beneath the liquid sun.

You matter to me. You hold my heart
behind the mountain of the lake.

A wren tik-tiks and gray squirrels run
as I seek out the spirit of my soul.

Now before me you laze like the lake.
Embrace me like air, and I am yours.

Time Wrinkle

Though much of Ireland has joined the modern era, it can be pleasant to join in celebrating during one of the ancient festivals, reliving the times before electricity and technology. Listen to the music and evoke the spirits of the past.

Though much of Ireland has joined the modern era, it can be pleasant to join in celebrating during one of the ancient festivals, reliving the times before electricity and technology. Listen to the music and evoke the spirits of the past.

from Gathering Stones

The gloaming deepens, grows dark
and cold. Staring into the sky,
the stargazer’s mind wanders
far from British Belfast back
to Celtic crosses and beyond —
nights entrenched in bonfire light
pastures aglow and faces mesmerized
with delight — days, weeks, months
of labor left behind.
                                  The bodhrán
thumps in his blood, brings his thoughts
back to the fields filled with phantoms
in rhythm with his soul.

Gathering Stones

from Gathering Stones

  During the Famine years, the British Protestant churches created work for the Irish to earn bread or soup. Much of the work was difficult, like splitting stone, or even useless, like gathering stones from fields and building rock walls that began and ended randomly across the countryside. Weak from hunger and malnourishment, many people died “on the job” as they tried to secure food for their families who were starving to death.

 

During the Famine years, the British Protestant churches created work for the Irish to earn bread or soup. Much of the work was difficult, like splitting stone, or even useless, like gathering stones from fields and building rock walls that began and ended randomly across the countryside.

Weak from hunger and malnourishment, many people died “on the job” as they tried to secure food for their families who were starving to death.

Searching by moonlight, scouring by day,
rough hands find rock, dirt, straw. Babes
wail awhile then remain silent

clear the fields. boys, clear the fields,
soup’s waiting when you’re through


Bloated bodies with grass-stained mouths
linger beside the road, none strong enough
to bury the dead.

clear the fields. boys, clear the fields,
bread’s waiting when you’re through


Leave hills, home, swap rocks for a sack
full of scraps, nothing left but the journey.

clear the fields. boys, clear the fields,
God’s waiting when you’re through

Holy Well

from Gathering Stones

  “Pagan” Ireland used certain springs as places to sacrifice jewelry, coins, pieces of clothing, even swords, in hopes that the spiritual beings or gods of that place would accept their offering and bless them. Later, the Catholic Church took these “faerie springs” and, knowing the newly Christianized locals would continue to venerate the place, gave them the church’s blessing by naming them after saints and calling them holy wells. People today still leave photographs, cloth, money and candles at these holy wells in order to be healed or to petition God for help.

 

“Pagan” Ireland used certain springs as places to sacrifice jewelry, coins, pieces of clothing, even swords, in hopes that the spiritual beings or gods of that place would accept their offering and bless them.

Later, the Catholic Church took these “faerie springs” and, knowing the newly Christianized locals would continue to venerate the place, gave them the church’s blessing by naming them after saints and calling them holy wells.

People today still leave photographs, cloth, money and candles at these holy wells in order to be healed or to petition God for help.

Once revered, even feared,
this ancient spring bubbles
with life, though centuries
have run away with all but
weathered stones and nettles.

circle once face the rising sun,
even through falling rain


Don’t try to understand
just accept by faith, trust
this pool of holy water.
Unseen fount, forever refreshing,
forever cleansing itself.

circle twice and cross your heart

Look around, miles of space
graced with butterwort, chamomile.
Don’t be afraid to walk this path,
take this course, your voice loud
in the silence.

third time around kneel on the ground,
an attitude of prayer


Offer your coin, your cloth, yourself.
Remember those who used to believe.