Poetry

Poetry

Carbon footprint

Mine is reasonably small
having always lived low,
turned off lights and faucets,
eschewed useless stuff,
reused, recycled.
I do not aspire to shrink it,
but, like the first people
in these green hills,

I want to leave
no footprint at all,
to move through life
in gentle, charitable silence
not disturbing fragile things,
cosmic balances
or the universal pulse
so that, when my candle
sputters into darkness,
the tiniest leaf is unmoved
by the wisp of its rising smoke.

Labor Day

Soap foams like spume on waves
         sloshing toward shore. And the water
is warm as I wipe each dish and fork
         like the sea wipes its sand-caked brow.

Summer is over. My kids sit at the table,
         doing their homework. My husband
outside, his tractor chugging
         as he whittles away his work,

cutting square after shrinking square
         into our lawn. Clouds crowd the blue
in the September sky, squeezing
         the sun into one long beam

leaning like a ladder against our house,
         stretching through my window.
I sense the cold feet
         of winter on the top rung,

heading down. But the water is warm
         as it spills from the spigot like light.
My hands clinging to the cup
         that now runs over.







The color of the universe

Last week a mathematician said green
glow, aquamarine—
and I suppose rare parrots
or the searing rise of rice,
aurora as it reels around the poles.

This week the man says oops,
a miscalculation:
the universe is amber—
peach hair, cantaloupe,
a squeal, the yellow cart of dawn
pulled into day.

Show me the math, show me
equations in green, gold, vermilion, plum—
whatever comes out of the dark
around us and the sun and all
the sons and daughters of the stars—
the universe a crystal, charmed,
worn in the hollow of God’s throat
and warmed.



Votive stations

Silence is misery, said a friend
in a casual comment on the phone.
Elizabeth spent three days with no one
to interrupt her but her own fears.
Lulls during which she noticed
the buzz and pop, resting from the hike
on a stone. Her retreat intended
to evade noise, but she found
the clawing of forest murder
and distant yelps. That’s when
she saw a tree, already turned
the color of flame against the others’
ordinary green, like the great voice
of one who had to speak. Not a word
for three days, unable to resist
the conversation released within.
Slow sun upon a single tree
that stands without explanation
on the edge of the meadow
with red leaves, a hawk glides above
the landscape of pines
between silence and speech.

For they shall be comforted

This oak took its bad news to the heart.
Lightning struck two springs ago
as I snored between my flashing walls.

Now scallops of orange fungus layer
the fissured bark. Spider sacs trailing
ragged webs streak the splinters like comets.

I have lost someone. Her eyes flash
among the decaying leaves. I hear
her small hands fluttering in the creek.

Grieve me, she calls. Split your heart
with my face. There is nothing else
I can do. I pull up a broken branch. I sit.