Northwest Passage

Stepping into a room
And seeing its light
I remember the window.
Placed, set, squared.
And on walls and floor
Phosphorescences of
What could be, shards
Of water jars, sea phrases.
I breathe,
Not exactly what belongs
But what is there. 
Not belief, not knowledge.
An opening.

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.

53

On this hill that sails tamarack woods,
my shoulders are a clove-hitch ache.

Thirst overflows our calves,
we portage the camel bone it’s made
that slowly says, along the way, this
is a rough bowl
hand-sewn by hands
that still would like
to drink.  

Like everything at 53, even the thirst
is heavier, the creek in the palm
of the valley,
as I climb,
overflowing with leaves of air,  
a little stonier, the darkness of it
shouldering creases of light.

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.

I loved you before

Like the world that came to us,
claimed itself a sphere,
despite the sun, a spirit level,
nights laid between you and me.

Like the poem you love;
on the tip of your tongue,
its truth,
its desert flood,
no mouth to say,
its taste swallows you.
No synonyms for why,
but word by word,
the course it sets from you.

But you are not a poem,
of course.
You are stuck in traffic,
frequently.
Like trees, you pretend
not to unlonely,
not restless. 
You wait for things to happen,
for your life to mean something
besides the earth that shines and rains
and circles in your arms.

So, let us pretend this, instead:
you are from some other place
where beauty comes from.
For now, let us say poems are 
how to breathe there. 

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.

403

I cannot wait for you.
Ice like mink slips into rivers.
Creeks rear up in horses’ eyes.
The snow is a nomad’s rags.

Winter was an envelope for Spring.
The sun was a stamp on the window circling me.
You are a foreign word on glass
the highway scrawls.