Campfire

The stick the length of me,
lifted by the beach,
skinned, bleached
by gnaw of weather
and beaver, too,
stripped of younger branches
until the end, an antler now,
almost, as if the body lay just
beyond. Its possible journeys
are what I see now, battles for
the sake of finding one, but landing
on this island anyhow –
which makes it into another thing,
after all, this burning leap
of sudden purpose, like
an antelope perhaps, dancing
for the fire.

Campfire

The stick the length of me,
lifted by the beach,
skinned, bleached
by gnaw of weather
and beaver, too,
stripped of younger branches
until the end, an antler now,
almost, as if the body lay just
beyond. Its possible journeys
are what I see now, battles for
the sake of finding one, but landing
on this island anyhow –
which makes it into another thing,
after all, this burning leap
of sudden purpose, like
an antelope perhaps, dancing
for the fire.

Eagle Lake

I keep looking for you here.
I am on the edge of a sharp pine cliff
on Eagle Lake.
I wish I could fly.
The way you taught me that day:
become silence, you said,
it is the same conductor as a wing’s.
Maybe you’re on the next lake,
streaming into this one,
or the creeks have dried,
leaving stepping stones between us,
for weren’t you once the bird
my feet listened to, the green mossy creek?
Now, the clouds chalk the sky,
and I sit by a small fire,
a golden ring inside a silver feathered nest.
Sometimes the wind comes
and flies together with the smoke.
I want love that when you
get too close, you’re blinded,
it stings, and you weep.

Ice Out

Light is always years away,
so when it’s here, it’s gone,
like us, when we’re on 60, going 90,
your windowed reflection there
so that I see through your love,
the drink of you spilling from me
and taken by the winter molt of lakes,
like an all-in poker hand, winning you,
swallowing you
whole through the teeth of tamarack,
doing this, not touching,
encrusted in, like your spirit said it would,
in the eye pits of a moose,
taken down by wolves
on the first day we said
we knew it had to be Spring.

Poem About a Poem

I read one poet, then think of another,
and then from her, another.
You mention you dislike poems
about poetry. I do, as well, but tell me,
how many poems about poetry
can you show me are about poetry?
Think about every author of the Old Testament,
stone mazes of words, their numinous millennia,
yet forbidden to enunciate or to spell out,
for the faithless eyes,
the full name of their beloved.
Now think about the plague of crickets
outside the window, me turning from
the moth-glow of the computer on the table
to enter the unlit yard so that I may listen as they
arrange their utterances on the strands of reeds,
fanned out along the creases of the river,
so that I might hear your name mentioned
by the darkness.

Aegeus

I watch as my son
on the tongue of
the rock
stirs his feet over
the water,
deep
as air,
feet like
two hummingbirds
that tease their
brothers from
the underworld, who
rise up to feed
in his country
of dance and shimmer
to plunge for a time
like me
in the ocean
of his world.

The last thing

The last thing I said was, are you awake?
You watched me out of your darkness.
Last week, you painted your bedroom black.
Said it made you feel yourself again.
Brings back storms that scared you as a girl,
Made you sneak to your bedroom and sleep.
These days you dye your hair, to stain time.
You were always back there, luster
on the wet dark grasses of the silent-smelling
stars and the oval nests of birds and the weight
of dreams, wading up to my heart.
Wild blackbird in your tiny cage,
wake inside me.

Questions on how to live from a campsite east of Pinetree Lake, Algonquin in February

If your name’s Nick, does it hurt
to have a nickname? Is it strange that fire,
which can’t be touched,
can bring feeling back to hands?
Why is there no word for beauty?
And, along the same lines,
why is certain wood called Ash,
long before it burns? You would think that love
could at least let itself be held
(yes, you, backwards magnet),
like the bundle of firewood
I carry in my arms,
ready to give it up for
its revelation of warmth.

Madawaska

I carried you inside me,
frozen river carrier.
But I leave ice to bury
the current it will bury.
I leave pines to stand for me,
fly their ancient flags.
I will let stones be stones,
feel their hold release
their million birds of silence,
their shadows lain in snow.