Poetry

Poetry

My mother in Venice

She had another life,
not only the vast expanse
of prairie, but this island
adrift and shimmering.

here she is, in the Frari Church
holding the Child.
Centuries ago Bellini
saw her at the fish market

shivering in the rain,
brought her to the small
fire of his studio
and began brushing her round

face into glow, dressing her
in blue silk—my mother
in this city of mirrors
where the centuries swirl

together, where she still holds
the Child, my Brother,
where she doesn’t hold me.











Wetlands nocturne

(Rhodoms Point, Big Colington Island)

You gave me time. And giving
that, like a master, a miser, gave away nothing.
You knew this all along. For
though you move in cycles and seasons,
you dwell beyond, outside of time and measure, beyond
the scope of words and reasons.
This is what you give, then: a center, a way
of being, that though it moves, lies beyond movement
the way the springs of a well rise
far below the moving waters of their mirrored
surface where they play and spill like the dance of trees
rooted upside down in heaven.
How strange it seems, through the looking glass. For I know
your ways, am one of them with you. Like needle,
like compass, like kayak
I follow you as you follow me.
And moving, am moved toward you. As you
like these waves, make no move at all.
Croatan Sound. Albemarle Sound. Currituck Sound.
Pamlico Sound. The music
of a water wind beyond human names
and naming.

Waxwings in the pryrocanthus

Heavy the waxwings hang upon the bough,
A gospel dozen, sharing summer fruits,
The pyrocanthus touched with winter snow,
Alive with yellow-banded crested suits.
There is no solitary prophet here,
Spying the setting, ranking lesser wings;
They come in droves, in droves they disappear,
Unlike the dove, alone no waxwing sings.
Of course the birds are metaphor to me,
The waxing congregation sharing all;
The dove, I think, practices poetry,
Solitary, an “individual.”
Is it perverse to sing a lonely song,
When love prescribes the place where we belong?

After long illness

          God never makes anything without a remedy.
                                                          T. H. White

Sprinkle me with rose water, saffron and powdered cloves.

I crave Basilisk baked in hummingbird milk, haunch
of unicorn—O, Lord, set before me full platters.

I celebrate star fruit, brie, angel hair pasta,
artichokes, tilapia, wine,
                                           drizzled truffle oil,
and parsley both curly and flat.

Bard pheasant breasts, crush garlic, whip cream,
and let me lick the bowl and the beaters.

Deep fry onion rings. Stew the okra
and the collard greens. Fill me with popcorn, doughnuts
and fried egg sandwiches.
                                            Hold the ketchup—
I am not completely shameless.

I praise even the coarsest of salt
crusted upon sliced limes,

for it is good to hunger and thirst.














Come forth

I hear you’re good at washing feet—
ever thought of washing the dishes?
You wouldn’t have to stop talking.

The one about the Pharisee and the leprous camel—
I could listen to that again. But I figure,
why sit out here in the parlor,

using up perfectly good cigars,
when we could all be
getting something done in the kitchen?

And if you set the example that way,
my sister there might actually think
to roll up her sleeves once in a while.

See what I’m saying?
Lazarus might even take the hint.
Hah! Over his dead body, he says.