Saturday, September 25, 2010

Heron Rises



So heavy
is the long-necked, long-bodied heron,
always it is a surprise
when her smoke-colored wings

open
and she turns
from the thick water,
from the black sticks

of the summer pond,
and slowly
rises into the air
and is gone.

Then, not for the first or the last time,
I take the deep breath
of happiness, and I think
how unlikely it is

that death is a hole in the ground,
how improbable
that ascension is not possible,
though everything seems so inert, so nailed

back into itself--
the muskrat and his lumpy lodge,
the turtle,
the fallen gate.

And especially it is wonderful
that the summers are long
and the ponds so dark and so many,
and therefore it isn't a miracle

but the common thing,
this decision,
this trailing of the long legs in the water,
this opening up of the heavy body

into a new life: see how the sudden
gray-blue sheets of her wings
strive toward the wind; see how the clasp of nothing
takes her in.


~ Mary Oliver



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Monday, September 20, 2010

my love is building a building





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my love is building a building
around you,a frail slippery
house,a strong fragile house
(beginning at the singular beginning

of your smile)a skilful uncouth
prison,a precise clumsy
prison(building thatandthis into Thus,
Around the reckless magic of your mouth)

my love is building a magic,a discrete
tower of magic and(as i guess)

when Farmer Death(whom fairies hate)shall

crumble the mouth-flower fleet
He’ll not my tower,
laborious, casual

where the surrounded smile
hangs

breathless


–E. E. Cummings




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image: Peter O'Malley,
www.ridgewoodcameraclub.org





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Saturday, September 11, 2010

White Flowers

 
 
Last night
in the fields
I lay down in the darkness
to think about death,
but instead I fell asleep,
as if in a vast and sloping room
filled with those white flowers
that open all summer,
sticky and untidy,
in the warm fields.
 
When I woke
the morning light was just slipping
in front of the stars,
and I was covered
with blossoms.
 
I don’t know
how it happened—
I don’t know
if my body went diving down
under the sugary vines
in some sleep-sharpened affinity
with the depths, or whether
that green energy
rose like a wave
and curled over me, claiming me
in its husky arms.
 
I pushed them away, but I didn’t rise.
 
Never in my life had I felt so plush,
or so slippery,
or so resplendently empty.
 
Never in my life
had I felt myself so near
that porous line
where my own body was done with
and the roots and the stems and the flowers
began.
 
 
~ Mary Oliver
 
 
image: fififlowers.com
 
 
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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Moonlight: Chickens On The Road


Called out of dream by the pitch and screech,   
I awoke to see my mother’s hair
set free of its pincurls, springing out
into the still and hurtling air
above the front seat and just as suddenly gone.   
The space around us twisted,
and in the instant before the crash
I heard the bubbling of the chickens,
the homely racket they make at all speeds,   
signifying calm, resignation, oblivion.

And I listened. All through the slash
and clatter, the rake of steel, shatter of glass,   
I listened, and what came
was a blizzard moan in the wind, a wail   
of wreckage, severed hoses and lives,
a storm of loose feathers, and in the final   
whirl approximating calm, the cluck   
and fracas of the birds. I crawled
on hands and knees where a window should   
have been and rose uneven

in November dusk. Wind blew
a snow of down, and rows of it quivered along   
the shoulder. One thin stream of blood
oozed, flocked in feathers.
This was in the Ozarks, on a road curving miles   
around Missouri, and as far as I could
see, no light flickered through the timber,   
no mail box leaned the flag
of itself toward pavement, no cars
seemed ever likely to come along.

So I walked, circled the darkening disaster   
my life had come to, and cried.
I cried for my family there,
knotted in the snarl of metal and glass;   
for the farmer, looking dead, half in
and half out of his windshield; and for myself,   
ambling barefoot through the jeweled debris,   
glass slitting little blood-stars in my soles,   
my arm hung loose at the elbow
and whispering its prophecies of pain.

Around and around the tilted car
and the steaming truck, around the heap
of exploded crates, the smears and small hunks   
of chicken and straw. Through
an hour of loneliness and fear
I walked, in the almost black of Ozark night,   
the moon just now burning into Missouri. Behind me,   
the chickens followed my lead,
some fully upright, pecking

the dim pavement for suet or seed,
some half-hobbled by their wounds, worthless wings   
fluttering in the effort. The faintest
light turned their feathers phosphorescent,
and as I watched they came on, as though they believed   
me some savior, some highwayman
or commando come to save them the last night   
of their clucking lives. This, they must have
believed, was the end they’d always heard of,
this the rendering more efficient than the axe,

the execution more anonymous than
a wringing arm. I walked on, no longer crying,
and soon the amiable and distracted chattering came   
again, a sound like chuckling, or the backward suck   
of hard laughter. And we walked   
to the cadence their clucking called,   
a small boy towing a cloud around a scene   
of death, coming round and round   
like a dream, or a mountain road,   
like a pincurl, like pulse, like life.


~ Robert Wrigley


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