Auld Lang Syne (#48)

I’m still in love,
It turns out,
After all this time.
Where else was there to be?

The woman walks her dog
Along the sidewalk, conspicuously
Avoiding eye contact, and
I can’t know her pain.

The boy stares into his screen,
Watching himself play himself,
And I look over his shoulder,
My own blue eyes reflected.

Those nested acres of earth
Tucked between the highway and
The exit ramp, a laboratory of
Saplings and garbage, invisible—

When do we smell the soil,
And what do we notice?
I cup it to my nose
Like damp potter’s clay,

Determined to become whole,
Breathing the dark,
Crumbling chunks that
Smell of old books.

Remaining in love,
There is no apart—
I am at the world’s service,
Tracking mud through the rain.

Listen. Once a year we sing
Auld Lang Syne,
Intuitive hymn,
Praising kindness!

We stare into strangers’ eyes,
Swept into whatever’s next.
As if it could ever be otherwise,
We resolve for nothing less.

The Chainsaw (#47)

Gentle, where the chainsaw
Gouges the bark,
Throwing thick chips,
Ripping life asunder.

I work in the cool
December light
To clear the year.
Saplings sprung from pasture,

So much life! There’s
Nothing somnolent about
The saw, no effete snoring,
This hungry, smoking bastard.

I grip it tenderly,
Felling a black cherry,
A box elder maple,
A fork-branched mulberry.

How much to do
On a winter afternoon?
The saw gutters, grumbling,
Its silver chain sweetly oiled.

These trees will all be back—
Here, there, in that distant field.
New Years, it seems,
Is rarely ever so far.

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.