For Instance, the Geese

There is no name for that.
There’s no strength that holds happiness.
There’s no promised land of sadness.
The fields are gold with fall,
They are silver with winter.
The car is trailed with the filthy snow that led you here.
You note the windshield paintings,
the ancient figures, antelopes of ice melting into lakes,
Arms of blue rivers white with the harvest of clouds.
There was some mission.
About the mystery, you had come to
an understanding. For instance,
the geese circling forming wonder —
so why stay so long with them into winter?
What was the sound that we made,
if not a cry?

Because She Danced

Yes, the windows have needed replacing for years
(she had said to him a thousand times.)
But she left them, their tenuous existence,
half-reflections seeing to her forgetfulness.
She will remember when you’re
elsewhere, though, you’re sure,
how much she spent on the necessities,
like the fence to keep the dogs
from tearing up the riverbank at Christmas,
decorating their bodies with burrs,
and dance lessons for the girls
because, well, she danced once, too.
She’ll find it difficult to date memory,
the algebra of the two-sided gaze, here
minus but also plus back there.
She’ll know it’s been some time, though,
how she’d go to one,
and how opening made her different,
that for a time it changed her life,
feeling something more come in.

november 27

Light, cold rain

Wind-shield wiper swipes
the geese overhead.
It’s nice, now I need
not persuade, nor make believe
it’s possible
to stay.
The needle will cross over again,
and find north.
When winter’s scrubbed away,
geese will conduct
the sky.

This World

In this world
the snow falls
in your hair.
How to explain
touching
strands of light,
a body holy as mist.
It dissolves in my hand
and hovers.
It blackens the road.
In it, you weep, a lost world
vanishing
as it appears.

Together

At noon
you slept in your car with the heater running.
At noon I wrote something in a coffee shop
and burned my lips.
Like this, let’s say we
are together.

Let’s say you drove here, the ice
not so terrible as it looks,
melting.

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.

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?

Questions on how to live from a campsite east of Pinetree Lake, Algonquin in February

If your name’s Nick, does it hurt
to have a nickname? Is it strange that fire,
which can’t be touched,
can bring feeling back to hands?
Why is there no word for beauty?
And, along the same lines,
why is certain wood called Ash,
long before it burns? You would think that love
could at least let itself be held
(yes, you, backwards magnet),
like the bundle of firewood
I carry in my arms,
ready to give it up for
its revelation of warmth.

The low fox trails

I see how the low fox trails,
like sister currents,
cling to the pauses of
birch creeks,
and in them, my heart,
tired of its flesh,
my tree-and-snow country
leading away from the down commas
that blot the seat next to me,
leaked from a winter coat.