Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Rainbow \ Out Of Memory, A Dove

Alan: A vision of a place known so intimately that even now I can see every fold in the skyline, every tree on the shore.  But there was only one rainbow like this.
The Rainbow
I have never felt closer to the Perfection of Wisdom
than when I saw, not that perfect double rainbow
perfectly framing the long hill rising above the glass-blue lake,
perfectly reflected in the lake, so that the whole
formed a perfect twinned circle of breathlessly inverted color and light,
but in the memory or whatever it was that came to me just now,
seeing it again, as clean and still,
though I am hundreds of miles from any rainbow
and a million years from that particular hill and lake.
Nancy:  April's a month of firsts, of birdsongs and strawberries, of mornings at dawn in the mist, of the first fish.
Out Of Memory, A Dove
And so, April,
with her showers
more sharp than sweet
and a dove, calling
              becomes a pond,
              sunrise, fish rising
              my father cleans a fish
              I wipe the knife on the grass
And the dove calling
              drifts into woodsmoke
              a bright moment as twigs flare
              my father oils the pan
              and the doves are calling
              around the pond, at
              sunrise, April, in the rain
And so too this morning,
nearby in the rain
a dove is calling.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Two For Don \ The Dancing Grounds

Alan:  My youngest brother’s was another April death, sudden, appalling.  Even now, 13 years later, I want him back: there's so much to tell him, so much to learn.
Two For Don
I. Timber Cove Road
The Thursday after you died
I was driving home
through showers that burst
in gusts of sleet:
tall clouds broken
by clean hard sun.
A rainbow was building
as I entered the woods,
and then it was there
off my right fender
between me and the trees,
between me
and the endless dark trees.
II. Aurora
I went out
and the hair of the night
was standing on end
above the huge forehead
of pale shining.
In the still air
all the animal sounds and people
and place sounds mingled:
a distant truck, a foghorn,
the grumbling tides, a million
yips and yowls.
The night
stood up on its hind legs
and everything on earth
was looking and
speaking in tongues.
Nancy:  They aren't beautiful.  They aren't beloved of poets as larks and nightingales are.  And yet, we wait and we wait for the first magic night when the woodcock rise up, and we seek them out in the deepening dusk - "There, there," we say.  THIS is spring.
The Dancing Grounds
Buddy ate a woodcock once;
his son shot it, “no bigger than a robin,
and it tasted like worms”.
Buddy’s no sportsman.  He and his sons
hunt and fish for the pot.
The small bones I found in the baked beans
were pa’tridge, and I don’t ask whose
ribs and knuckles these are.  I don’t ask
because Buddy and the boys hunt at night some,
quiet and careful.  The woodcock, though,
was a legal shot, a boy’s quick prideful
reflex kill.  Solemnly, they ate it.
It tasted the way alder swamps smell in the Spring.
Little thing, no bigger than a robin,
eight ounces maybe.  An estimated one million
are killed each year by sportsmen, city hunters
like the ones who parked their car in my lane
without by your leave; arrogant, noisy
men who remind me that poachers make good neighbors.
What’s left come back to the dancing grounds;
it’s not the robin with his cheerup, cheerily
that says Spring, here, it’s the woodcock falling
at dusk out of Orion to the dancing grounds.
And we keep them open, the abandoned pastures
and haphazard slopes where the woodcock dance.
Here’s time and sweat we can ill afford
and yet we can’t see nature take its course here;
we burn and saw and scythe against some gentle
muddy dusk of falling song.
Buddy met me at the door, and we tipped our heads
back at the twittering.  The woodcock are back
on the dancing grounds.  It feels like Spring.
“The Dancing Grounds” first appeared in East of the Light (Stone Man Press & Slow Dancer Press, 1984).

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Two Sunsets \ Spring Greens

Alan:  Many years ago, Nancy asked which of two small water colors of Joyce’s I most wanted, and of course I wanted them both.  They have hung side by side ever since, the same scene viewed twice, a few minutes apart.
Two Sunsets
                                     For Joyce Morrell
The fields rise up.  It is getting late, a few minutes to one side or the
other of sunset.  The sun behind clouds, the clouds spilling along the
The fields rise up, the color of cranberry juice on slate, of spent summers
rising softly to swallow trees, sky,
and the trees (they are spruces) wait in patient black, spreading their
arms alone or in small, quiet clusters.
The fields rise up and the sky sinks, slipping away with the sun, back,
beyond, sliding behind clouds, the clouds riding the sun or where the
sun has until just now been,
and the sun sinks, is gone, or almost gone, hidden in cochineal velvet,
in folds of cobalt rimmed in gold and in straw.
The fields rise up, softly.  Soon there will be stars, already may be stars
behind us, but the spruces stand in front, and the spruces are the shadows
the fields cast on the night.
Nancy:  Dandelion greens.  Our family ate them wilted with hot vinegar.  I ate them only under duress and to this day the thought of them puckers my mouth.
Spring Greens
There are no greens in the woods, Granny –
which way is home?
My knife is dull, my basket full –
it must be time to go home, Granny.
Star light star bright, it’s dark in the woods –
at home they’re lighting the lamps –
The air is chill and the birds are still
and we’ve walked too far –
do you know where we are?
Have you lost the track?
Can’t we go back?
Granny?    Granny?
There is no spring in the woods,
it’s time to go home.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Passing Over \ April, At The Edge Of The Labrador Current

Alan:  This one’s for my father, who died April 5, 2004.

Passing Over
As you lay dying, I was passing over
from the coast to Bangor and the interstate.
Fresh snow sugared the wooded hills
and a west wind gusted.
It had taken an hour, that morning,
to clear home, the car caught slantwise
across the spring-soft lane, the town
unwilling to tear its skin by plowing.
But now the road lay clean
and I was passing over, as you were,
and heading south, a weak sun
hurrying itself between dark squalls.
Nancy:  April, neither here nor there, no longer winter and not quite spring.
April, At The Edge Of The Labrador Current
2 days of T shirts
and then a night comes down
so black cold
in the sky
an insubstantial
thin fall of light
washes the north
just below
the aurora
tide grumbles on stone
your skin goes taut
while you watch