Absence singing

There in the touch of amber light
and its fluid color upon sentinel trees
at the wooded edge by still water and
an opening to the sky

—there stirring from among the moss
and fallen leaves
—stirring and setting out to disappear

—the mist glow of branches fallen soft, unharkened,
their disappointed limbs accepted into the earth
without notice, without mind or eye to witness

—still facts of being once.

With each such breath of imaginary song
there is this gorgeous and entire quiet

—your absence singing.

Absence singing.


Always love

And which of you comes to meet me
at that table by a window I imagined

having promised myself that person would be
a comfort to me? I would want the old friend

who was always a comfort to me. But then
I remember how that version would complain—

old bones, your past beauty, your sweetest days long gone.
You’d want to be that grinning girl instead, laughing

to realize her silly vanity in a cousin’s photograph
or the small, shy child who does not yet know

her brother’s suffering, who holds his hand,
obedient and adoring his handsome, undamaged face.

Or would you arrive in the company of your shining
son, Soldier Achilles never gone to his war?

I know you would want to be your father’s daughter
—you might finally have the breath to dance to his music.

What tune would turn your terrible, delicate heart?
Would you be the woman who took my father’s hand,

led him that day toward the house as it had begun to rain
falling so very hard upon the dry, bare earth?



Snow bends the bare tangle
of branches, the tree of a type
I cannot name just now
recalling its small purple fruit
and the thick screen of leaves
that hides me here
from my neighbors —all summer.
I’ve never bothered with curtains.
Now, even the snow falls away.


Always a river

There is always a river
in those dreams more than
mere dreams
though sleep restores us
we are carried to a destination

where there is always a river
the rogue general encamps
at a level place by the banks,
beside the ancient bridge
and outside the useless city walls.

There is always a river
consummate expression
of its watershed, writhed
and veined, turning in the basin
of a sensate creature land.

There is always a river
taking, delivering sending
its signals through stony flesh,
embodied, ambled past
ignoring our presence or blind.

There is always a river and
weary of its journey here
it breaches what had seemed
a boundary. We cup our hands
and drink, drink the clear water.


The Art of Ignorance

Think of it as a kind of sleep,
restful, nourishing, blank;
a place where fears would reside
and also fall away forgotten, become
powerless. I don’t mean to suggest
what you don’t know won’t hurt you.
It’s just that the last thing you want to give
a frightened child is insight…
and what are any of them but frightened?

There comes that moment
an exhausted swimmer decides to drown,
the skeptic resigned to worship.
An artist gessoes blank canvas
and it is art enough
that honors the unmarked surface…
A man will take measure sometimes
of the crimes
that he did not commit.

“Sleep” isn’t the exact word, though.

There are traditions where the name of God
must remain unspoken; the light of a face
is imagined an all-consuming fire.

Courage only makes known what it would
when we are ready.

Poetry Uncategorized


Is there praise to be sung
for the quiet hours he let anger pass
alone, unspeaking, for what he managed
not to break or curse, for the long walk north
famous in family lore
for each step, for what he carried into wilderness,
into cold distance, into his pale-skied absence?

Suppose one could share his story, and offer
some telling detail, so free to imagine
tall pine each side of the old logging roads
he travelled; places he stopped along the way,
creatures that watched him from the woods,
his long, long walk,
narrow heaven above.

What he came upon at last was
his history unknown and none to presume
fill his silence with what they thought they knew,
a place where he would neither be reminded
nor asked to forget the sweet face that became his grief.

He might finally have disappeared there completely
when we gave his name to our son.