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.
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
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.
Words between us are like birds
that have not returned.
We drive by the ice ponds
on the undeveloped land.
You take a left at the lights.
They circle, they cannot land.
All you were ever good for was going
on and on,
arriving in between
here nor there,
legs always knowing
to turn stone into the shape
to hunt, to close in on,
to step into
the place of distance stationed
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.
This morning he sees the river
he has not seen,
because the river swirls
as to sew tatters of thoughts
into shimmering rags of
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.
So pretty, sun
frozen in a bog,
There is hope
Tonight, I fell through the ice.
It’s easy to break into light,
splinter into astonishment.
It’s harder as we walk, though,
along Two River Creek,
as you point out
you skated last week
for the first time in your life.
That you fell, and
he pulled you back.
What is there you’re showing me
between the shadows
of our eyes, adjusting mine
to your darkness, to the clouds
chattering under my grey beard
We know what loss is –
the excavation of love. But, is this what
I am meant to find when we step
next to each other in silence,
the wet pearls on your face,
for which I once dove,
giving themselves up as rocky stars
brightly fallen from the Black Sea of
your underground river?
These things we will not say
Roads glide on ice.
Your snowy trees are swans.
Nothing is what it is
Waves are particles,
Your streetlights bless snow.
Or blackbirds that circle winter stars,
Frozen braille reading
Revelation of your body
In the doorway,
Your light, your hair,
Bud of darkness
Across your cheeks
My hands are brackets
That cup the shadows
Of words, our
I compare this woman to resilience, the reed’s stillness, her face disappearing in the soup’s steamy tail.
The blowing snow is a thousand poems, scattered into the river.
We are hemmed to our words, aren’t we, the constant callings,
the beggary all shameful, archaic summons?
Between her breasts is my grief, and the
bones she’s hidden, smoothed in laughter.
To sew together an entire forest, this is needed:
a rabbit’s trail softening new snow.
I’m reminded about the togetherness of things
in the way things resemble each other,
breaking apart, so that it’s possible pulling
is in the reaching,
and this often when the world persuades
us to sleep, conceals its darkness traversing
the wind in this old soybean field
that sews its dress for the invisible
to dance in.
walking this morning across McDonnell’s Field,
of trees etched naked by thin edges of sun,
calloused soil poised to feel
what I might break next. I’m peering down
the old well the Mennonites dug,
the watery coin of wish
undifferentiated between being dropped,
You’re walking too, the other way,
the wind climbing over dirt
that, like me, will not get caught in you again,
as I get caught up, hoping for the best.
Perhaps this morning your words
will be a simple pail I tug from the earth,
each grasp bringing ache into my arms.