24 January 2008
take fear and call it lust, and let me go lay in the snow
Polaroids, Wildwood Park, Radford, VA
If the Owl Calls Again
from the island in the river,
and it's not too cold,
I'll wait for the moon
then take wing and glide
to meet him.
We will not speak,
but hooded against the frost
the alder flats, searching
with tawny eyes.
And then we'll sit
in the shadowy spruce
and pick the bones
of careless mice,
while the long moon drifts
and the river mutters
in its icy bed.
And when the morning climbs
we'll part without a sound,
the cold world awakens.
Some time when the river is ice ask me
mistakes I have made. Ask me whether
what I have done is my life. Others
have come in their slow way into
my thought, and some have tried to help
or to hurt: ask me what difference
their strongest love or hate has made.
I will listen to what you say.
You and I can turn and look
at the silent river and wait. We know
the current is there, hidden; and there
are comings and goings from miles away
that hold the stillness exactly before us.
What the river says, that is what I say.
Walking through a field with my little brother Seth
I pointed to a place where kids had made angels in the snow.
For some reason, I told him that a troop of angels
had been shot and dissolved when they hit the ground.
He asked who had shot them and I said a farmer.
Then we were on the roof of the lake.
The ice looked like a photograph of water.
Why he asked. Why did he shoot them.
I didn't know where I was going with this.
They were on his property, I said.
When it's snowing, the outdoors seem like a room.
Today I traded hellos with my neighbor.
Our voices hung close in the new acoustics.
A room with the walls blasted to shreds and falling.
We returned to our shoveling, working side by side in silence.
But why were they on his property, he asked.
If we, as we are, are dust, and dust, as it will, rises,
Then we will rise, and recongregate
in the wind, in the cloud, and be their issue,
Things in a fall in a world of fall, and slip
Through the spiked branches and snapped joints of the evergreens,
White ants, white ants and little ribs.