Where shall I set my listening chair?
In the oak wood behind my house
where hemlocks stand and pines blow?
In the slightest breeze they wave their leaves
and needles as if in greeting. Through rain
snow, sun and ice, rooted in place
they live and die, making more beautiful
that one place, and that is enough, I believe.
We all know the snow is coming
forthwith, when we will hunker down
in cave, in house, in cold cellar.
Like dried hydrangeas and goldenrod,
all in our rooms, we’ll await the spring,
when re-seeded with life, we’ll emerge
into the fervent light.
As you enter the woods, there––
There I want my memorial service.
As you enter the woods, go up
the rise. Then stand there.
There is where I’ll be
waiting for you to enter the woods
to be lost, then found
by the hunter/gatherer of souls
who will carry us
through the woods together
then on into the fields of heaven.
What then I saw is more than tongue can say.
Our human speech is dark before the vision.
The Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri
As words failed Dante to describe Paradise
words fail me as I look to the woods
except for the barest verbal skeleton––
trees, brush, sunlight, shadow.
How common. How plain. How failed
a poet, who can only say thank you
for this holy day in mid-September
rife with aster and goldenrod
before the killing frost.
The plywood hammered into place
over plate glass windows.
Survival kits of band-aids, flashlights
sandbags at the reaches of the tide.
It’s a monster, they say, the coming
hurricane, christened Florence––
a name for a friendly waitress,
a name that might tame some of its power.
At the hurricane center, who names
has power. (Remember Adam
walking in Eden, naming, naming …)
Forecasters hang their hats on
multiple fictions. Powerless before
Nature, what else can they do but hope?
Easter is three weeks old,
old enough to stand on its legs
and walk the landscape speaking life
into dead grasses, reluctant buds
icy hearts of men who have given up.
Easter is what it does:
renews to left, right, and center.
Its seamless garment passing over,
the grass goes green.
The keen return of taste
the sound ear hearing clearly
the grandchild’s song––
To know spring in the smell
of earth and see the robins
run in a burst of color––
All of it clings burr-like
to the lining of memory.