Ghazal #2

With them, I break my animal trail,
Canoe scrapes treelight for creeks.

Words dam rivers,  
Comets rise to feed.

I breathe like them,
Airholes stars have pricked.

Having passed under it all,
A world’s run over with me, 

Migrant island boats steeped with spruce,
My boots choke on the taste of clay.

Blazes are the eyes of steppingstones.
I see perfectly when they come to me.

Today

A drive to another city.
Getting lost in a forest.
Your stillness
in the grass.
Birds again.  
Sumac
in your
hair.

A River Passing

This is the way
you must look to birds,
nothing but a breeze.

Which rounds the hand,
loosens fingers’ memory,
how in your hair they digress.

To the other life
behind the trees,
overhead, a river passing.

Poem to a deer

There is an apple orchard that leans against a crest,
A shadow of a road

The horses from the barn sometimes wander there,
Scenting fruit

Breaking branches on the dull horizons of their backs,
The chase of scrub light

Mixing with you,
Loving where you take us

Wading into trees, marvellous in the thickets of wind,
To bring back

The appetite of anger
The hunger for forgiveness

To love as these crabbed branches, their clenched dark fists,
Ached in compositions of lightning

We long to join you
Your likeness to us

Though we wary of your appearances,
Vanishing in all your countless directions,

Tear-aways between the thrashed exits apple trees make
Grown too heavy, our lives unpicked in the divots of your poems,

The sky urging branches to be its roots
To go further, to leap back

And land, momentless, upon an untouchable earth.

First Day of Spring

Are you the lake of two rivers
and, melting, is this the river speaking
for the light?
Is highway 60 ok with
your beauty?
What I mean to say is,
is your face breaking apart
across the car’s Tamarack glass,
opening up like
the womb of a moose
taken down by wolves on
the first day of Spring,
already pregnant with sun
and ice and asphalt.

Rivers Again

Every word requires a second language.
For example, there is no word for beauty,
though rivers are stories
about love, the plot of rafts,
I saw, glued-together by summer’d
Tamarack reflections
under a winter’d disfigured bruise.
Of this language,
rivers are clear about this:
only bodies swim.
Only a body holds a promised land.
Only bodies drown, holy
as the river reiterating the river,
the blood, succinct, inside the wine.

Small Brightness

All you were ever good for was going
on and on,
arriving in between
neither
here nor there,
legs always knowing
the way
to turn stone into the shape
of motion,
to hunt, to close in on,
to step into
the place of distance stationed
the eyes,
and to rest beside
the star-freckled nakedness
of a river, or tamarack,
which talk in their sleep,
guessing you will wake
to start again,
to blink into
the small brightness of a fire
that is always
haunted with hope,
a head, forever,
full of hunger.

Chukuni River

This morning he sees the river
he has not seen,
because the river swirls
as to sew tatters of thoughts
into shimmering rags of
memory, memory
inside-out of memory,
the way the river combs
the landscape that palms it
so the landscape becomes the body
of its direction
and the limbs
of its intent, the way the land,
it seems to him, comes to love
the mind of the river.

Winterless

I am fifty this year,
after Christmas, the late buds
assemble their small hooves
in the wind of the dead season.
The Mennonites with their black horses do not walk
out into the uncovered fields,
or step over their roots tarred in muddy flesh.
We cannot love whom we must,
yet cannot imagine another;
the earth is wrong for this place.

Tourists

It looks like it’s me,

this yellow couch

in this window of particle and light.

Can we be sure

or do we confuse certainty

with things that stay?

When I hear you call my name

like a lighthouse,

like a shaft of dust in sun,

does that bring us nearer

to an answer,

or to that bluff

we’d never perfectly pronounce,

the capital of emptiness,

that place we’d see, sometimes,

up above the bay?