I wait like a broken fence in the middle of a field,
bow-legged crutches crunched in toppled cairns,
and the spine itching with the furtive weight of wild flowers,
sagebrush and webs
and water in the cracked veins,
and scalped branches from
trees now the bones of sparrows
and the antlers of elk that appear to pass through
never again, like a sign
that is missed.
Shut your eyes, Paul.
There was no shining path, and
love was there.
For three weeks I have regretted it,
regretted that I did not do what I should
have done as I stood there, those
minutes seeing you buried away
in your bed. I wanted to crawl in to
that pit you had dug and in the
decaying blanket of light find my way
down to you, to hold you in my arms and
carry you back the way we were going.
(After Jack Gilbert)
You read the poetry I write in mornings,
before the sun becomes sky.
Adornings for sinners though there is no sin
But love, forgive me, if I cry.
She read my poetry I wrote in mornings
when it seemed the lines for sinners was a gust
that furrowed skyward from the ochre
soil that lined the sideroads, and the mass
of hermaphroditic rushes,
which seemed they should waver there,
buoyant and undeciding in their quickening flourishes:
for bruised hematite rust and respite,
or ripeness and love so deliberate and firm
that the plum brimming between your fingers,
and the redolence of peach
whispering from the smallest hairs
of your ears
is as real as the burnished spirit that
strides again into our long untangled bodies,
and converts them to the sun tipped brows of grain.
Coincidence is delivered
as earth is in the Bible,
then resolves toward form afterward
conveys like the stricken
beasts here and there on the road
where they make their way
up from the Nith River
that floods in Spring
Mennonite cemetery and Settlement Rd.
From the air, the Nith’s flow is uterine.
The body of a raccoon curls
like a shed antler on a scoured pan
of road where Don’s goat gate
opens, left unlocked since winter
to let the deer pass into the next field.
It is wired-haired, meteorite bronze,
and copper blooded, as if regurgitated
from a sky archaic as words,
like smite and fallen. Wrath.
We see eye for an eye.
brim in a buzzard sky cross-stitching
the blue, and the white, and that one
landing on the gate.
Everything here is something else;
its emptiness on Easter morning:
the abandoned church and
the statue of St. Agatha, its amputated
breasts like cloves in the roadside’s fleabane,
thistle berry, and vetch.
And I pass another,
repose fixing its
eyes on its claws, erect like upturned
nails in the arch
of a post, as though pausing to watch
a familiar miracle,
following it as it crawls up
the fine hairs of the leg,
and into the hardening body.
But where on earth
have you gone to
What happened to the province
that held the mottled islands
in the rounding rivers below
and the wrens that plotted there
or slept in the contrails of providence before them
Where do they scatter in a sky that
surely must be falling
Now what shines with rhyme
their far cries of the world
trawling head first
into stems of rain
No one here is you