A breadth of frosty fastnesses slashed my sight today,
Milk-glass skies, swirling shades of translucent amber
Deepening unto dusk, bleeding teal and myrtle--
These clipped nouns crumble to dust before them.
Above a winding road, Orion tightened his belt,
Dreaming a city of no fears in jeweled strands:
Topaz, lapiz and pearls, throbbing, trembling--
Even tears fail to gain a purchase on this vision.
Once, in a small plane above the Wrangell mountains,
We swooped over the edge, a sudden drop-off,
A thousand chances to be swallowed in icy chasms--
Balanced by a preposterous antidote: lucid joy.
Voice. Word. Verb.
In my grandmother’s bedroom, a lamp
Blinks, beaming above a rack of shoes.
A voice is a vague chant about a page,
Conjuring shapes from silence.
Hands appear on limbs, grasp the book;
A portcullis of yearning lifts, yawning.
Dust and sun become motes of delight
Thirsting to merge with the gravity
Of music, wondering whether
Someone with searching eyes might gaze
At the meeting-place of water and sky,
Listening for the pitch of melancholy.
In the village, the voice of a poet invokes
aspen leaves, is a melody forgotten by fountains.
Frozen universes lose their density,
Words unravel for want of a poem,
Feathers of fire-birds plummet from the blue,
Bequeathing their quills into his hands.
Pushing the limits of fragile as strength,
you endure, an impoverished queen in exile.
Waiting for your grandson to finish playing,
you quietly hold court in the park.
A cormorant spreads its wings to warm itself
in your sun-filled voice over the phone.
It lulls me back into a stroll through a rose-garden
near midnight, and your blessing on my road.
You ask me, how are things? I pause, over the
translation from sycamore into spruce.
During winter, a tide in Cook Inlet is bizarre.
The once-grey ocean becomes an ice-factory,
conveys it in crackling sheets side-ways,
grinding it inexorably into shards by the shore.
The biting wind only allows a few moments to stare
at the way the ice plays tricks with light,
giant pastel lanterns flick shadow-puppets
across Sleeping Lady's grandest pinkish-orange peignoir.
While your voice, dear friend, is a flock of wax-wings
Swooping 'round me, a figure-eight, a sudden gathering-in.
When the door's ajar,
Sleep is a blank page
Imprinted by dreams
Where the sea-air flits,
Yearns to grant a kiss
To your wise, wise eyes--
You, wild violet stealth
Born of fiercest chill,
Grass of Parnassus,
Absurd blue poppies,
Shattering cold rocks
On a slate scree slope.
Because the night has swallowed the moon,
in the glare of its milk-white teeth,
the moon-daughter waits in shadow,
in the tangled mane of a weeping birch.
Is it her song that stirs the leaves,
or is it the fingers of the wind,
lunar servants, silken
reminders of silver rays?
She steps out with blind eyes,
shivering, testing her footing on
each mossy root and rock ledge,
until she finds the place in her memory,
further on and up, into a clearing
fringed with lingon-berry leaves,
where the last few star-flowers cling
to the edge of a sandstone cliff,
where she holds a twilight vigil, waiting
for the midnight sun to fade into moonlight.
Fastened in a metal cage,
I glide above the pebbled path.
Grinding, humming, rattling,
Rare ore surrounds me.
Melted sand has forgotten the shore;
Through its lens I glimpse the sea mist.
There, where cotton grass clings to the silt,
High-stepping, the golden plover dances for its mate.
How do I know this?
Once, as a small girl, I followed my stick boat
On its way down a stream.
A shore bird and I nearly collided.
My hand groped and I felt its pulse
Quicken as mine does now.
Ashamed, I let it go at once.
Twig-like tracks in the sand
Must lead to a nest in the grasses.
The aroma of crushed ferns
should flavor the sun-dappled breeze.
Oh, free me from this clattering contraption!
Fly away with me
To where the spanish moss waves,
And the ash tree trembles,
Where fresh water
Springs only to your touch.