This is How it Looks When it Looks Like This

From the window, the dogs are barking,
at nothing, really, not a woman crossing the road,
or an animal, a fox, say, that comes in from the fields
by the highway, that sometimes sleeps in the shed
(the mutts always smell it),
with the machinery.

I look a little too long, there’s less and less.
Except for the overgrowth sharpening into
spools of wire and foothold traps,
the cornstalks gutted on the plains,
the cellphone tower possessed by voices,
and the street lamps where each night
crowns of light are crucified, I regard only
their instructions for departures.

So, if I could bark with them, that is what
I would start to see, what I don’t,
runways where things go where they go.
And, I would hope, too,
I’d find a way to chase away the fox
that sneaks back nearly every night,
that’s there, camouflaged by
the invisibility of things that will not expect
to be found.

Summer Ends as a Woman Takes her Coffee Break

Like Autumn,
I will need to change
my life again. For this
woman, how she leans
on the black chair,
as if she had always been
a girl. The dry creek of
her back,
the naked feet, both have
waded here
together from a shallow river of sun.
And spearing through
her hair, a birthmark,
like a reflection
of an arrowhead,
the first
leaf bruised with cold,
but pale, as if
she had been painting,
in case winter
was coming again.

Where the River Takes You

I had hoped the scratches
on my back you left
would remain, like

a grassy floor
a deer leaves,
after a night. But

you showed me
a moth’s wings, instead,
the deer knowing, then,

to stay quiet, within,
to lay in the breeze.
See the wings greying

to mirror the burn
around us, you said. Yes,
though you do not

seem, yet, to sense
the creases of
the old river skin’s

hands, fingerless upon
the brown bear
swimming

towards this mothy shore of trees,
its claws that cannot root
into marks,

or tracks stretching
to the room a deer
wakes into.

My Country

My left shoulder shares its pain
with my elbow. Hand is clutched by
the seismic rumours. It draws the hill in
the maple forest we portaged
that continues, like a camel’s back,
to carry the thirst down
into these days. Like everything at 53,
even the thirst is heavier,
the creek in the valley, as I climb,
years on top of years,
stonier, deeper, nearly bright.

Firework

Say, I love you, in darkness,
and it will mean something different.
Wonder: is awe the spark of friction,
emptiness on flesh?
Ask, how true this is: the heart’s the sting
evaporating in
the atmosphere of the soul.
Then remember, fireflies float
like ash.

left

And later when I photographed you at the water,
when on the rocks the wind came for your blouse,
I pictured the idea of a soul hewed
in the pliocene bodies of cormorants alight
on the water image of those distant rocks —
too many shadows to know for certain
whether they were returning, or instead
vanishing into the skin of our memory, like a
pictograph sinking into the face of a stone, or
the fading bruises on your breasts my mouth left.

– ph

Lady Evelyn River

I am too close to the fire to write about it,
my fingers are charred with night. Flames light
up the paper, like stars collapsing in my hands.
It’s hopeless, my words are the claws of bears
scraped on trees, or the revolutions of branches
erasing satellites, clutching near galaxies.
Maybe in the morning you will find a way to help me
understand. I promise I will write it all down. In
the morning when you swim up through the glare
with the minnows who become our breathless
constellations we see in light.

Not Another Fucking Poem

You, naked, barely
on the edge of the bed, blinking, white
as a candle, alight on a plate, and breasts,
together, cheerful as dolphins.
The way we played, you,
legs to opened ground
and me, a compass with only one
direction — but wrestling, braiding fingers,
me, pushing you down,
you, pushing back to come back
laughing, allowing us to
forget all that.

i

I wonder how others feel love.
Her, under that streetlamp,
fallen snow in black hair, like an infinitesimal
constellation of wounds, then tears, like bright new worlds?
And, me, unmoving,
the sidewalk scouring her into spirit,
her bootprints quitting the path?
Do others wonder, when the day scissors flesh
into shadows, that hers swims too darkly to be unskinned,
or is a scrap of soul blind as an eclipse.
Like me, do they wear, threadbare
with regret, the coat of that night sewn
by moths of its snowy incandescence?

Weather Report

Now that you are happy
I would have thought the weather here
in Madawaska would’ve changed.
And I wonder if you wonder now
what a waste living can be,
the clouds only landing
to take us up into rain.
But, you know, I almost believe you; perhaps,
it’s just the weather, undecided,
that says otherwise, its backtracking,
its circling, taking one more look
for the thunder we may or may not
have heard.