Almost Twelve

For Mallory

I’m loving this existence
because of you,
The way you walk
in sunshine and speak
in a voice of innocence
without pretense.

A ritual, this counting
my blessings -your charms-
like leaves
on a maple in full sway.
Impossible to be anything
but thankful

at the way even your shadow
shimmers with energy.
Explaining you is like trying
to connive a poem.
It can be done but something
would be lacking.

Your photograph will show
wide eyes bluer than the bluest
sky, and red hair that you insist
is strawberry blond,
but it wouldn’t show the music
of the art form.

Going Home for a College Reunion

It is not like riding a bicycle,
one can forget how to dance.

At the twenty-five mile marker
we pass a cross with plastic flowers.
Travelling east on I 70
things aren’t like they used to be.
So much has died
since we actually saw the stars.
Every five years a reunion,
        the attendance dwindles.
Old friends and lovers are strangers.
We muse that they have aged badly
then glance at each other discretely -
avowed travelling companions
        quiet in the eye of the storm.

Reunions can do that sometime,
for a minute you forget that you’ve graduated.

Afterthought

Huckleberries, blackberries,
umbrella shaped bunches of elderberries –
tiny purple pearls born from white flowers.

Mayapple, teaberry and groundnut,
peach and pear trees
and wild cherry with fruit dark and bitter

as if they knew a long time ago
making great jelly
was never enough.

Oak, walnut and maple,
Sycamore groves and hickory,
white tail, cotton tail and squirrel

not to mention the nightingale,
all bartered away for a four lane
that leads to a town that’s gone bust.

Who is this monster
called Progress?
Certainly not us.

Something in the Air

Swaddled in pilled flannel,
she stares through watery eyes
of allergies,

dozing now and then
over ‘the best part
of waking up’.

The house a cacophany
of refrigerator, vaporizer,
and snarled sinuses,

Even the raspy pages
of the newspaper
are a source of pain.

Bombings in Afghanistan,
a thirst for peace,
the rising price of tea…

Saturated society pages
keeps the scores a mystery
to all except the editor

and the lucky neighbor
whose paper landed on the porch,
She wonders if stealing it would be a felony.

Keeping company with errant clocks,
she worships Claritin,
Listens to the distant train, and dreams.

Pulpwood and Paper

It’s the sound of the woods,
the sway of the trees, the spread of limbs
leaving shadows, The way the leaves
seem too tired to hang on
and fall to the ground,
making carpet for wee things
that run in the night.

It’s the silence
when not even a breeze
stirs through the brush, or the frost
krinkles beneath boots
with thick tread, or how the acorns
all capped deep in dreams,
stay close to the oak.

It’s violets, shy in the shade,
a rose wrapped round a trunk,
the petal that fell,
Its pulpwood and paper,
and a cheap ball point pen,
It’s insomnia at 2 a.m.
that turns a forest into a poem.

If it’s not Night, it Must Be Raining

One by one the minutes tick
like grains of dropping sand
in shapely brass and crystal,
or sure and steady hands.
And no one can slow the pendulum,
no one can speed its swing.
If this is not the night
it must be raining.

The dance floor now is empty,
The band has packed it in.
Too late to escape the ghosts
but it’s almost morning.
She takes his outstretched hand
until the night is done,
though no one can slow the pendulum
nor rush the rising sun.

In the flicker of the flame
the candle turns to sea.
Waves of spiced vanilla wax
those waning memories.
While the moon hangs high in indigo,
avec papier bateau
we navigate the Seine.
Too soon the morning.

On Reading Amy Clampitt’s “Beach Glass”

I’ve walked that watery edge, Amy,
teetered on the ledge of understanding,
envisioned a Utopian paradise, but slipped
before I found it.

The endless piles of plastic,
residue of careless tourists
pushing and shoving at my mind
like waves on sand.

I’ll leave the glass to you, Amy
Bud lite and Almaden, one classy
Zinfadel of Berringer’s, Not all
tourists are infidels.

I’ll take the grasses, the plumey
heads of swampy grasses nodding
their hello, Downy cattails
bending in the wind.

My weedy, reedy friends
that teeter, always understanding
the uncertainty of me,
of where I’m going…

where I’ve been.