Bonfire

You feed the fire many things.
It takes everything.
Stars back away.

Its heart, bodiless,
embodies the asteroid belt
of your outer ruin.

You cannot say what it is.
Like you, it is almost lion-hearted.
It is mostly human.

Brightest of every most broken,
you see what you feel in your eyes,
ferocious engines of a spaceship.

Airborne

There’s nothing green about the trees
that begin to leaf the skies.
The green is only the whites of blue
it carries, and also, we learn,
the yellow that grasps their ankles.
Of these we name, roots,
because only we can walk for years,
forgetting, even as we grasp for them,
the same way you or I might not recall
what our bodies cannot forget,
how to become a branch
falling from the sky.

McDonnell’s Well

As we travel in its direction
we are carried for awhile
by stray things
we collect of each other.
This is how I’m reminded
about the togetherness of lost things,
that they resemble each other,
pulling being an expression of reach,
sleep an anchor for darkness
lowered into the sky
at the bottom of a well.
I don’t know if either of us gets there,
the one the Mennonites dug,
but maybe we are simple pail
tugged out from the earth,
each grasp we make
brimming in the other.

Map of Wilderness

This map flows river after river,
creeks popping through them, like bent nails.
I read its mind on Evelyn again,
wind stealing it from your hand,
stuffing it down its pocket of rapids.

I’d go to those rivers once.
It didn’t matter,
you’d never stop finding me.
So, I believed that what the tongues
and grooves of water had to say
was true,
that you loved a wilderness
more than I could ever.

You’d just come to me,
you, your invisible map,
the one
only I could see,
so that nothing, I thought,
would steal it.

Winter Field

This funny place,
every place somewhere else.

How, I love you, turns a face,
changes minds, becomes a back.

Mine, too,
into this river spine of loneliness

up freezing ground,
snow-warmed, underneath.

Pikangikum Territory in Late August

Here in Pikangikum territory in late August
your accent is the summer of pinaceae,
azimuth, canvasback, azure
and the lines of you scrawl on my back
and the hair of you spreads roots over blunt Obsidian,
and wrinkles smooth Anishinaabe lakes
northwest of Pikangikum territory in late August
as westerlies fill the cheeks of stratocumulus,
heavy-set, blueset as slate. But, this is not love, you state.
We must wait until our bones are stepping stones
set in waterskins, and scars and bruises
are rubbed in arrowheads of paint ending on a brush;
in other words, an eyelash that winces turpentine sting,
weeps on the shoulders of words
their bittersweet scent of juniper
giving up to us all we mean by that.

Hanlon Road

I pass your house
as morning fades in long reeds of smoke,
as transcendence returns steadily to its old fate.
I’ve hidden things we’ve misplaced there.
Returning now to them,
would the lips remember their directions
under the scent of bread in your hair,
or of those first chickadees
who seemed to believe, more or less,
in the beatitude of their seeds,
like blackberries in hedges of snow
outside a backyard window?
Or, of you and I, for that matter,
would they sense the instinct of grace,
which remembers all and forgets,
and like all imperfect things is
a simple air that, first, senses us?

Day and Night

There is less time to write now.
I leave the office at 5,
run for an hour.
I drive to your house with flowers,
kiss you. Kiss you, finally, and leave.
I think about calling on the drive home.
I make dinner for myself, wash,
set the alarm. I look for the matches
to light the candles so that I can sleep
and which I will set on my desk
where I spent all those nights writing.
I tell myself, nothing is wasted.

Knees

February takes me by surprise,
in the middle of it,
legless as knees
up to snow’s filthy quicksand.
Something’s calling though,
the river blind with meltwater,
the air leaking its signals into my lungs,
no louder than a heart caught
in the ear.