Tea drunk from this cup
will conjure visions of foreign birds: for you and
I, when I go traveling
under the name Arctic Tern
pole to pole, by daylight and starlight
through sadness and exhaustion
and joy, and restoration
which comes in the lines of a familiar face
or easy silence of shared history:
Kindness is the only thing that makes sense anymore
(like Naomi’s poem, handwritten on Mom’s fridge)
along with the ease of old songs
and dreams of the Green Mountains
when echoes of friendship from over the years
hit the sun-slashed golden hills and
return unbroken to my ear
Sun, sinking slow, shedding sweet
light on low hills of home —
sudden golden light outpouring,
tears breaking through the veil —
all of us wishing to come home, to
the sudden stars. Across the narrow sea.
Sun at solstice, tender grief.
Heavy light and nights are deep.
And the weight of the world is love, is love.
And only in silence, the word, the word. And only
in dying, life; in the taking and the giving, life.
And in the chiseled dark of winter’s bone,
let us find beauty in the seed. In our lowliness,
the wish to rise. And everywhere let this
small light fall and with it, may the dark be gentle.
It’s good to howl into the night and sanctify the new year
with the song of wolves. Even if it wakes the neighbors.
It’s good to clench my thighs under the dinner table
at secret memories, and moments of pleasure
and sniff the world just for the sake of it. It’s good
to be alive for another moment when death becomes birth,
and dark finds its way again into day.
I love. I have loved. I will love again.
I have been hurt. I have hurt. I will hurt again.
I have lost. All I have will be lost again.
But for now it’s good to dream, and sing.
Wolf Mother smiles in her implacable way,
licks her lips, looks with feral yellow eyes
and sighs, Daughter if you thought you could get through this Life without being noticed, you’ve got another thing coming.
Written in the autumn of 2015 as I took the Running with Artemis class at MountainSong Expeditions, a 6-week course of trail running and archery that culminated in a 5K run through the beautiful woods of Worcester, Vermont. Part of the Daily Poem series.
and the red maple has wept her tears
till in the stand by the mountainside
only the yellow beech still blooms.
I’ll run till this race on earth is over, and
a voice rises up, and then another:
it is the chorus of those long dead
who turned far away to
follow the lure,
the dream of the white hart
that calls me fearlessly through
For they gave me breath to run the woods
by the hollow tree, and the hollow
hill, where the sun rays catch
in the glistening web,
where the bow is instrument
of blessing and power
and at their call, I wake again
to run amazed
in the glittering world.
In August 2013 my friend Alex Beeken and I started a daily poem exchange where, each day, we’d e-mail each other an original piece. We’ve kept up the collaboration, though the deadlines have relaxed somewhat; nevertheless Alex’s friendship and poems have been a constant in my life over the last 2.5 years. I wrote him many versions of this poem while spending 6+ months of the year on the road. This is the best version of it, I think.
I spent seven nights at home in April
and the rest on the road
in the dry dry canyons of the west-southwest
where the sun shines dark on crow wings
and braided hair
but I don’t know the names of the plants
or people there, who find red flags in how I walk
and there was snow in Flagstaff and the
Phoenix sun burned me, and the Bay dusk
drew a jewel-like path down to the Farallons;
I flew ocean to ocean in just two days and found
there were dolphins on one side
and tears on the other
and the tulips were scarlet in New York, crimson …
I think I don’t have a home anymore, except
for these poems I write you.
In these hours of lassitude and introspection
on a flight someplace, somewhere over the Midwest.
The earth is a witch and I her lover,
casting off old cauls, have
danced undaunted in the fall fields beneath
the gibbous moon.
You can call me by many names: I have been
Pretty Flame, I have been
First Snake. I have even been nameless
for a time, and crawled rawly naked
through the damp earth
in darkness before light
How could any touching seeing hearing
tasting being doubt inimitable She
of a Thousand Names and breaths and wings?
The earth is a witch and through our blood