The marsh tide calls me,
and cat tails rattle in the wind
when I turn restless in our bed.
I‘ve kept all the bird calls I’ve ever heard
in the cup of my ear
to spill into your empty
hands as you sleep.
More important than the birds’ names,
each song has a shape –
blue triangles of eagles,
the gray loops of doves.
Maybe you’ll dream of how shapes
build a house or how colors
find each other in the painting of us
on the pier earlier today.
I follow the fog past the tulip poplar tree
dropping white flowers into the water.
Even at night, I find the crossing bridge
where the water stops to listen
to its own falling.
When I’m lost in the waves
that sift the silt along the banks,
I find myself in the red twist
of a whippoorwill’s call cutting air.
Loving the Dark Cloud
Though I want the meadowlark
singing in the field of winter
wheat tangled as my hair in wind,
I love a dark cloud, its grey foreboding
under my left shoulder blade.
The way thunder trembles my ribs
and rumbles down my legs.
The way tension and the promise
of release string my spine.
Loving the dark cloud is like loving
a rock. How it will only speak
its persistent silence to the river bank.
How it resists touch but holds
your warmth for a moment. Loving the dark
cloud is like loving the minnows in your hands,
the broken emerald in your throat,
or the blue moon butterflies haloing your head.
The dark cloud’s torrent sweeps me
away into the everything I am not.
Leaving the Island
On the tree stump beside his bed, a jar of sharks
waits for something to break. This is how it is
when you’re shipwrecked. One night he calls me
into longing, into flesh. Woman, it’s an act of love,
this standing rose in a hand. For a while, paradise,
but the rose becomes a conch, and the hand, a swordfish.
I see ships in every cloud. Each hour becomes the thirst
hour on the beach, and us, without cupped hands or sails .
This is how to swim, he says one day and holds me
under. On the shore, he sets fire to every limb
of driftwood. The rocks write my name
on the shore, and I sink, my pockets full.
The Earth is my New Pair of Shoes
—to Ansel Adams
A stone wind burnished the sky
and long clouds feathered
the blue expanse. The silver light
turned each blade of grass
and every particle of sand
a luminous metallic splendor.
There was nothing, however small,
that did not flash in the wind
that did not send arrows of light
through the glassy air. I was arrested
along the crunching path up the ridge
by an awareness of the light
caught on my skin and in my hair.
That moment I saw the detail
of the grasses, the small flotsam
of the forest, and the curves of the high
clouds streaming above the peaks.
I could say nothing in response,
but fit perfectly where I stood,
my feet in the dear dusty earth.