December Brushstrokes (#46)

Planets aren’t supposed to twinkle,
But Venus, low on the horizon,
Has wrapped itself in glittering glass,
Sparkling a thumb’s width below Saturn.

When the photo arrives in the mail
From a distant cousin’s distant cousin,
The old house looks little as it does now,
Festooned with a milliner’s ivy hat.

The old dog goes lame, and the X-rays
Show cancer. Twelve years is a lifetime
For a large breed. There’s no comfort.
When she dies, part of us is gone.

The smell of smoke in December air.
Is it true, that a tree can catch flame?
It seems so unlikely, dripping green with
May rain, each leaf slick and silver-wet.

The road disappears into the gray sky.
We know it’s not so, telling ourselves
It’s only an illusion, recalling fairytales
Where boys climbed above the clouds.

The Great Rush of Ivy (#45)

The great rush of ivy
Up the side of a sycamore—
How far does it know to go?

Red leaves, puddled before
A stoppered storm drain,
Barely moving in crystal water.

The most fertile soil lies
Between the highway and the field,
Where the farmer can’t till.

Have I spent a thousand lifetimes
Learning to see the grass?
I suspect more, and more to come.

The teacher recalled the apparition,
Describing death as taking off
A shoe that’s too tight.

Will I get to see the ivy again?
I hope so. It’s lovely, to know
That it knows what we don’t.