Nancy: Sometimes, reading to students, I could see them start to giggle at the last line and then wonder whether that was ok. Fine. I wanted them to understand that poetry could come out of or be part of their own lives. (I was actually told once, in a fourth grade class, that poetry was written by people who were dead.)
There’s still a garden fence – a gesture toward hares.
On the west side I set cedar posts
and chiseled mortises and leveled rails
but it’s not much of a fence: freestanding,
it supports roses. Along the lane
there’s a tangle of posts and wire
waiting to be cleared away. It’s not worth fixing
now that I’ve no sheep or heifers,
no horse, no pony to be kept out
or held in.
Without fences, the lines blur,
bear shoulder through the alders,
deer trample and browse the raspberries.
Because of this, the dogs make their own fence,
lining it out in urine and posting it
with sharp barks. I step across,
but coyotes acknowledge it. Night after night
they sit and sing, just over the line,
What a small scrap this is,
a house, a garden, a few fruit trees,
hayfields growing back, and wildness pushing in.
Every morning, the dogs rush past me,
past the garden,
and lift their legs again.
Alan: In winter, our ears take over when our eyes get tired of too much gray and white. Under the right conditions, I can still occasionally hear – or perhaps feel – the basso profundo of the groaner buoy as it rolls with the waves off the headland, 10 miles away cross-country.
“Rain, rain coming” the dogs proclaim,
crying their news across the unseen boundaries of the towns.
“Rain! Rain! Rain!” a bobcat rants from the swamp,
intemperate as a drunk banging homeward,
cursing the sober and sane.
“Rain, very much rain” the foghorn lugubriously booms
from the outer head across icy miles of swell.
“Rain, cold rain” a docking freighter blares
like the last trump testing the range.
And again in the dank dark: “Rain!”
Then... silence. Nothing
in all that broken and hidden terrain
makes a sound. Nothing stirs, whatsoever,
except, perhaps, a fussy, faint,
hardly-to-be-thought-about motion in the trees,
a timid complaint in the outer branches
of certain of the trees.
And the dogs slip into their houses,
the wild things stumble to bed,
the Taiwanese crew of the Eighteen Venture turn below,
to the yellow light, beer and smoke,
and we go upstairs and lie for a long time,
waiting... listening... listening
as the east wind bubbles, and foams, and froths,
to the eaves, to the ridge, to the chimney-top,
over the rim of the rattling cauldron of the world
and suddenly boils with rain.
“Fencing Wildness” originally appeared in Slow Dancer magazine. “Winter Rain” originally appeared in the Beloit Poetry Journal.