Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Coyote - Encounter \ Frap

Nancy: Fourth and fifth graders: “Nothing ever happens to me,” “I have nothing to write about.”  The first lesson?  How to be quiet, watch, listen, care.
Coyote – Encounter
When he came out of the alders
I was invisible, because he had not dreamed me
yet; I was not waiting in his eye
or his mind’s eye, and the windless noon
gave him no news of me.  I was invisible;
I will come no closer to being pure mind
than I was then, standing between the fence and the field,
and I let him go as he went,
quickstep, his tail bold.
Just as he reached the thicket, I called,
“Hai, Brother – dream of me tonight,”
and he went quickstep, surprised,
carrying me into the spruces while I walked home.
Alan: Skeeter was so tiny he was never expected to survive his first weeks.  I wrote this a few months before his sudden death from tainted dog food at age eight.  During his life, he owned me.
Did the Buddha ever experience,
the way my little dog does –
even now in his full maturity –
frantic random activity periods?
(Waking exuberant to a new dawn,
he dashes from one squeaky toy to the next,
chases his tail, jumps
on and off furniture,
careers madly through the house.)
Did he, sitting composed in meditation,
silent, unmoving, ever
find himself tearing through the multiverse,
shaking one world system and another
with his lion's roar, spinning
the roulette wheel of the Dharma
in pure, unrestrainable joy,
finally to collapse,
panting and grinning,
in the lap of some minor,
delighted god?
“Coyote – Encounter” first appeared in East of the Light (Stone Man Press and Slow Dancer Press, 1984)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Those Streams \ Northern Lights

Nancy: When I became an easterner, what I had left of Indiana was a sensory landscape of the soft luscious texture of pawpaws, the black walnut stains, heat and sound, odor and taste.
Those Streams
I think the streams were green
green, they were
I remember that they were green
and the roads were dust, and the trumpet creeper
I remember as orange
and so the afternoons are orange, an orange heat
that stayed in Indiana.
I never carried it to this place.
The water, itself, was green
I remember that it was green
that it smelled green
the walk to the stream
smelled and tasted of blackberries and dust
and later, in the dark, only of dust.
I remember it that way
that the sun smelled of hay
and the cabin of quilts
and the dusk of fish and woodsmoke and green water.
Who would ever have guessed
that I might carry those green streams
such a way, even to this place,
that man, that woman, that child, those streams?
Alan:  My childhood memories mostly revolve around “the summer place,” where life felt simple and every day full.  I bless my parents for many things, not least for the experience described in this poem.
Northern Lights
for my parents
Which of you thought to nudge us from sleep so late
and lead us, stumbling and blinking,
from the spidery, dream-ripe cabin down to the water,
load us into canoes, push off, paddle a few soft strokes
and float, out into the basket of cove, drifting,
feeling the metal ribs, tiny slaps on the hull,
smelling the aluminum, faint fish-odor of summer lake,
hearing the crickets, a bull frog, far-off loon,
and looking up, watching the bedclothes and curtains
and gauzy nightgowns of the night
waving and billowing red and white and green,
horizon to horizon, an astonishment of laundry
so clean and slowly perfect that we leaned back,
staring, utterly awake now, not saying a word, rubbing our eyes?
“Those Streams” first appeared in Blackberries and Dust (Stone Man Press, 1984)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Herring Cove, Half-past High Tide, Sunday \ At Herring Cove, Following Work by the National Guard

Nancy: The mysteries of the fog, the castles in the air, fantasies of looming – more often than not what you see is what might be – or, might not.
Herring Cove, Half-past High Tide, Sunday
Dark, erect, three cormorants,
from a distance their ledge could be
a dory, a punt, a tender, a dinghy,
from a distance with the fog behind them,
with the fog slipping over the surface
of the water, they could be three friends
out for a Sunday afternoon of fishing, they have
the still patience of handliners, the men
who, after a week on the water,
are drawn in friendship back to the small
boats, the deep invisible fish.
Even after the men come down from Sunday
dinners and loose their boats from the
moorings and stir the air with the clapper
of oars and engines, even after they turn
out to pass the weir, headed toward the
light drift of fog, the cormorants sit their
ledge just as they were, three fishermen,
three among many, on a falling tide.
Alan: Returning to a favorite place to discover it transformed by a “training exercise.”  Some things can only be explained by sheer stupidity.
At Herring Cove, Following Work by the National Guard
The storm-cut bank is gone,
and in its place a broad ramp of packed stone,
as if we are to drive forward into the water –
and the huge scoop of a sandpit,
licked smooth by heavy machinery
has been graded and seeded to a fare-thee-well.
The old patched dory’s vanished,
weir poles and brush removed;
the eye, deprived of sweat and history,
runs foolishly toward the horizon and founders.
And the swallows have fled,
their city bulldozed,
the air scraped clean of that astonishing chatter and swirl,
leaving a broken shell of ground
deceptively perfect, aimlessly
tilting toward the waves,
and a pained emptiness where purple grass once grew
wiry and waving above the sea.
“Herring Cove, Half-past High Tide, Sunday” first appeared  in the Friends of Acadia Journal.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Full Moon, Perigee Moon \ Mother's Day Plowing

Nancy: Our moon goddess would have less to do with romance and more with the tides, with the lives of fishermen and shellfish harvesters adjusting their lives to the timetables set by highs and lows.
Full Moon,  Perigee Moon
Imagine the moon
   rising out of the sea
Imagine the moon
   placid as a mola mola
  in the sky/sea
Imagine the moon
   veiled in branches
   a beautiful woman knowing the power of lace
Imagine the moon
   rolling up her sleeves
  by the side of the fisherman
   lifting the boat off the shore
Imagine the moon
   hunting the meadow
   beside the bobcat
Now see the old woman
And the moon
   drawn to her mirror image
  drawn to the bay
  where the woman waits for her

Two moons
   then one
   then none
   just the woman
   and the sea
Alan: Until I lived here, I never felt truly rooted.  Working the land through a year’s full cycle changed that. 
Mother’s Day Plowing
The same dark, shabby horses, their careful plodding,
creak of the whippletree, simple commands,
ripple of eight legs churning up shadows.
Happy mother’s day, earth.
The same sheer yellow-leaved poplars shivering against stiff spruce.
The sod turning a gleaming brown,
thick snakes uncoiling under the team.
Happy birthday, earth.
The tide is out, not in.  The wind’s from the south,
the clouds forgetting themselves in a moister blue.
The same scene painted from memory, the hues restrained.
Happy mother’s day, earth.
The boy’s on his own, he’s grown a beard.
The plow cuts cleaner, the clay is easing some.
We’re two weeks early on the year.
Happy birthday, earth.
The months turn: seeing that first field,
rose-root rough; a father checking has half-trained son at the gear.
We’ve worked this land for a year, and harvested food,
harvested more than food.
Happy mother’s day, happy birthday, earth.
“Mother’s Day Plowing” first appeared in Living On Salt and Stone (Stone Man Press, 1984)