Proud to show off my daughter Nyssa’s latest artwork for Woman with Landscape.
Mist lying in the deep valleys,
sunrise on white windmills, fresh cool air
blowing down from Canada after the rain.
Heard the mate-seeking brag of the rufous sided towhee
before I spotted him posing at the top of the thicket.
On my walk home, I passed a pair of teenage girls
boarding the school bus, talking animatedly
oblivious to the morning chill
in their summer shorts and tiny tops.
A kid pulled out right behind the bus in a banged up Toyota.
He grasped the wheel at ten and two,
wearing a frown of concentration and a baseball cap pulled low.
His studied air made me think he had timed it just so!
Because who wants to be stuck behind a school bus?
Except a guy with a shiny new driver’s license and a second hand car.
Did he hope that every time the bus wheezed to a stop
the girls would turn in the back seat and sneak glances at him,
gazing casually off into the distance,
and note the slight bob of his head keeping time
with the rock tune playing loud through his out-sized speakers?
Perhaps he dreamed of catching a small finger ripple from the redhead,
a half wave that could be turned into a hair flick if not reciprocated.
Did he hesitate for a second – who me?
Before realizing that yes, there was no one else around,
so that yes, that slight dimple in the cheek and finger flutter
must be for him. And yes, I imagined the slow creeping grin
and the deep hollow of lust and loneliness in his gut
flooding with happiness.
Dear Cardinal, I am so sorry
the cat who we keep as a pet
ate your partner.
You advertise for a mate
all over again
from the top of the forsythia.
Is it my guilt that detects a sad note,
or does that beating nugget of flesh
pump regret through your veins?
Either way, I absorb your loss,
buried no doubt as cat shit
under the earth freshly dug for peas and spinach.
The cottage pulls itself apart at the joints in the heat of the day
settles back into itself at night
high desert wind clatters in the fan palms
fine dust coats the mirrors
In the yard husks of coyote melons
blow into the roots of the brittlebush
small things scurry across the wash
leaving shallow indentations in the sand
lizard, ground squirrel, jack rabbit
burrow under the creosote
beyond, a crust of manzogranite
oceans of baking salt flats
garrulous hunkered down shrubs
with the resilience of rock
a feral landscape of burnt out, boarded up cinder block
half-savage dogs behind chainlink fence
transient human purchase
slippery as sand
the highway lined by salvation—
liquor stores, animal shelters, churches
sun bleached cars drift
from one side of the yellow line to the other
air too dry for ghosts
signs scoured bare of their messages
crouch, bristle, burn
hold tight, bend with the wind
learn to pull yourself apart at the seams with the heat of the day and settle back into your bones under an exhalation of sky.
Bear belly crawls out of her den
limbs heavy with winter lassitude
paws her way up through rootball, fieldstone, clay
two wide-eyed young nudge her flanks:
this bright new world is safe?
She noses the air
examines numerous scent trails
wild garlic, beetle larva, dead deer
food sources for her depleted body
Too many options
For a moment she sits and basks
black coat a magnet for a patch of sunlight
The muffled thrum of her own heartbeat—
sole companion under the snow—
quickens now with the sap pulsing through green wood
and the call of the cardinal from the top of the maple
She shakes her head, sending dust flying
swats away the young nuzzling for a teat
sways to all fours and sets off
pushing through briars
burrs catching in her winter fur
April wind cutting a ruff around her neck
She leaves a path of scuffed loam and flattened leaves in her wake.
Hopeful bench sitting
by an expanse of ice
waiting for the thaw
Happy Valentines Day and love to all in my life.
How much light in a winter sky!
the subtlety of mauve and rust and slate
heavy-bellied clouds floating
like seasoned bathers in a cold sea
each dwindling moment of olive oil light
caught in the wick of a seed of grass
chest-breaching call of the gulls
the lake surface a battered pewter plate
bouncing back the cupped light
medieval in its splendor
One small gift from the universe
an unintended consequence
benefiting the giver, taker
one momentary thread of spider
web light suspending
in one single tonal breath
body heat, one giant synchronized
joining of hands, shared
pulse resonating, thrumming
the fat base string
under your thump, thumping
heart beat one.
Sudden rush of feathers
draughting the air above me
small flocks of careening birds
fly low over the meadow
chased by strong tail winds
a dozen at a time joining
the twisting, turning mass
flowing across the evening sky
out over the lake, back over the trees
a pulsing organism, feinting left and right
like black drops of ink swirled in water
and then, on signal, they descend
in chattering swarms into the reed beds
their shrill conversations fill the air—
a murmuration of starlings at day’s end.
The raven came by in the late afternoon
three caws for hello, I see you down there
fingering the damp wash on the line
weak sun on your back, wondering
if it’s strong enough for drying, halfheartedly
sweeping wet leaves, pulling
shocking green weeds out of the gutter
stroking the tabby, scenting the apple decay.
You, walking around and around
your garden, cutting tangled armfuls
of herbs to suspend in the sunny spot
over the kitchen table, pulling
rattling skeleton pods of beans out of the rain
softened earth, mounding horse manure
over the rhubarb, turning the compost
disturbing the worms.
You, standing in a tree-framed window
of sunshine, ear half listening to the whispering
of oak leaves laughing dryly at their shriveled jokes
breathing the must of leaf mold
seeking the spot by the back door, somewhere
behind the three waiting pumpkins
where the cricket has chosen to sing
and wondering why?
You, hefting clods of earth into a bucket, paying homage
to the wooly bear, curled in a patch of near-sun
the ladybug carcass—yellow and black
walnuts thudding on the roof and the ungodly
splashes of brilliance across the landscape
You, lullabying your garden to sleep.