The forsythia bush

One morning this summer I was basking in the sun
With the brother closest to me in age. We had been
Brought up almost as twins but then took disparate
Roads, as twins do. He was sobbing and I was near
Tears and the ocean was muttering. I heard a heron.
We had been having the most naked open talk we’d
Had in many years. I wanted to tell him how deeply
I loved him but words are just so weak and shallow.
So I talked about the forsythia bush we used to hide
Under together. It was the safest place on the planet.
The light was always amazing in there and it wasn’t
Ever muddy somehow and you were draped in gold.
It was a hut a huddle a tent a canopy a cave a refuge.
Sometimes you have to use a thing to say something
Else. We do this all the time. We talk sideways, yes?
But sidelong is often the only road that gets to where
You know you need to go. So much means lots more
Than it seems like it could mean. Tears, for example.

And rise

to circle the fourplex
hawks on a February
day. Or shims of hawks,
as v-ed as a second
grader’s drawing
on a periwinkle
rectangle of sky,
a scallop of sun.

All those miracles

Rain at dawn on the tent fly,
the hum of an idle mosquito.  

Then another.
I pull on a headnet, turn over in my bag.

The rain stops.  
My tentmate breathes

the breath of slumber.  
I find my clothes, creep outside,

sit under a lodgepole pine
and read the gospels—all those miracles—

till rain returns
to walk across the open page.

              —Pasayten Wilderness


In early March  
the doves mourn
as each new dawn
I sit, looking over
the barren field
where for ten days
nothing stirs until
six weeks from
the day she died,
an owl flies from
dark woods to perch
on a bare branch
above the Buddha
where, motionless,
his round unblinking
eyes stare into mine
though who knows
what he sees, or what,
if anything, it means,
but life is like that,
isn’t it, the way it
sometimes when least
expected breaks wide
open, and what appeared
as lost is found.

Mary, Mother

She was just another village girl
olive fleshed teen dressed
in desert brown
sneaking out to meet up with friends
on familiar paths of Judean Hills
Until an angel swooped in
a rush of wings
like a bird of prey
left the girl drenched  
ravished by the Word of God
The attention it brought
the way people talked . . .
Friends wouldn’t recognize her now
robed in gold and larkspur blue
nimbus round
her porcelain head
Just a girl
fretful child
strapped to her back
walking dusty hills
singing  dreaming
of the night
when he would sleep