Poetry

Poetry

My father and the dark

Ten inches of snow this week,
gradual, over four days,
so that we didn’t realize

until we tried to walk
the tow path along the canal
how deep it was,

and I think again how quickly
this first trimester’s gone
a season already, reaching

around to rub her round belly,
its waters stirred this month
by tiny fingers and toes,

knowing our baby
has earlobes now, and genitals,
hearing again the racing

heart in the doctor’s office,
wishing my father, who sat up
at night like this to smoke,

could be here,
so that I could show him
how I sing into the belly

when she lies back down,
and could ask him
about the dark and its lack of answers,

dark he slumped in for years
with his beer and news radio,
dark he drove to work in

and came home in,
lived on those last few months
through tubes and drugs,

dark he lives in now,
or does not,
dark our baby swims from tonight,

in the waters where time begins,
adding cells and muscle and bone
all the hard way to our lives.





















The mind's eye

Could be the sun, if it ever was.
                                                          Darkening sky, darker shapes
not shadows but clouds
                                           shapes only you can see—
smoke from a fire,
                                 that dream about your mother.

Could be the thing at the back of your eye
                                                                            upside down
until the brain turns it around—

trees walking on their leaves,
                                                      wearing their roots like hair.

Could be the thought you forgot
                                                            then remembered later
after everyone had gone.

In the daytime it’d be different.
                                                       Everything white and fluffy.
The sky blue.

Still the half-formed shape, the real beneath.













If, then

A wave in the water. The word
              opens, shape for knowing
                            at edges, darker fields, trouble:
a wave in the water. The word
                            waits long to shatter on silence,
                             prove, prove that falling is
a wave. In the water, the word
              opens, shape for knowing.

Baptism by Rembrandt's prints

His fascination with light begins
in a lantern held by a shepherd,
over a little family against inky velvet.
Then light shifts; Christ becomes core.
When he preaches rays fall like song on
some earnest, captivated faces, some
distracted by other conversations,
and a dog facing the wrong way.

From his raised hand light spills
like waterfall over Lazarus and
lifts him, pale and twisted
into that luminous aura.
Even on the cross, the thin
etched lines leave an ivory
bowl around him, gather
from dimness the only dawn.

The limp corpse with extended
ribs still radiates. Its slide starts
at a peasant face, guided into arms
that catch the contagious light,
leaking onto the stocky official,
plumply supervising procedures.
Visual poems carved on copperplate:
I stood rinsed in that light.



Candles waking

When I get up in the night to stifle
a cough with hot tea, and make my way
through the black terrain of the dining room,

there are candles waking in the dark,
open eyes that never sleep:
the blue glow of digital minutes

winking under the television,
the coffee maker, the microwave.
A laptop beams its single pulse,

and the mouse beside it arches
over the red flame of a beating heart.
The rat scratching away in the attic

suddenly seems superfluous,
the stars outside the sliding door
a vestigial redundancy.

When I wake in the night and cross
to the greening numerals upon the stove,
I voyage within my own fixed sphere,

my lonely festival of lights.