I’d not yet eaten, but walked where the
feast was spread. The first course offered
wild rose in a pasture’s corner, slice of
path cutting uphill to walls of stacked stone,
ferns I brushed by, ferns I picked to
press to my face, inhaling the prehistoric.
I partook of one gadabout cloud, its belly tickled on
tree-tips, and blueberries picked while the
towhee whistled to his darling, while
lichen’s wedding veil went on
spreading over stones.
Second course: stumps rearing from a vernal pool
(beasts rampant and regardant) while underfoot on
sodden leaves an ember crept on legs: red eft
whose fictive heat forged a glowing arrow.
Where should it point but to a feather? This I
caressed into shape, then let its falling spiral
write unwritten thoughts:
these were for everyone, for none.
Third course was the fox unseen but longed for,
hawthorns in first blush, heaven locked in the look of
hayfields alternating with new corn
sprung late but thriving after rain,
and somewhere beyond—plaintive—
came the killdeer’s cry.
I was insatiable and devoured
every bit of the morning. The acres a full
banquet, and my appetite no surprise.
The Wallpaper Suite
I. Preparing To Scrape
Sponge in hand, I plunge it in the bucket of warm
water with vinegar added. Taking this wall by storm,
I joke to myself, because no lightning changes
happen; it’s slow work. Hateful elsewhere, it’s strange
that here I find it engrossing. The paper’s skin
turns umber under the wetting. I stroke the water in,
swimmer of circular moves, landlocked in a closet.
The original hue was probably golden ochre. Doesn’t
time conspire to darken or bleach? Look how little
flowers in the pattern–linked by deftly scribbled
stems, color up against the tender paper’s dark.
Water’s brought them to life; they nearly sparkle
from the unexpected soaking my freakish Spring
provides. Blindly intent, full of innate daring,
she turns them lush ivory. They’re sugar-petaled, fresh
with the sorcery of birth. Motionless, I stand enmeshed
in the garden of once only, I for whom they bloom,
innocent of their erasure. Powerless, these doomed
flowers, yet they wield power who soon will be extinct:
packed solid with ghosts, pressing me towards the brink
that lurks everywhere, waiting to be overstepped.
Where, for an amber moment, I am preserved and kept.
Demolition Of A 19th Century Wall
When the plaster came down, I saw
how the horses had served once more
and envisioned a van closing doors on a
load that shook as hooves hammered.
Dust of the stable yard wafted
farewell and prayer. Lather broke out
when men reopened the van. Light spoke
with the tailgate’s crash, but ahead of
sight, of sound, came smell redolent with
one story. Each horse inhaled the odds,
grew still a moment. From an entrance
blew the chill devoid of season.
Holding a broken chunk, I felt of the blend:
slaked lime and slaughter held it together.
Like breast of mourning dove, the color
mingled mauve and old rose, and within,
aswirl in the mix, thousands of hairs.
Countless, they were, yet each ensnared
my eye into counting, till press of the
herd in solidarity exerted such strength
a shudder ran through me floor to ceiling,
and traveled every wall’s length.
To An Iron Headboard Found In The Plattekill
More startling than the foundry was life mid-stream.
From a house folded like paper then torn, flood left you
submerged to speak with stones perfecting their
rounds. When I broke in on your Plattekill dream
you had already lain in water (ever refreshed),
how many years? Patina russet as hairs in a fox pelt,
not a trace of paint left, but each of your ornate
flowers intact, no worse for having been threshed
through the current’s mill, ground by seasonal
cycles as though you were grain. You are. Just a
single grain of endeavor. Once new. Once sentinel over
sleep, insomnia, sex. Observing a winding frieze
of domestic scenes. Coffee-crested, that flood, bold
the way it bore you away—a lover, taken. Which did
you prefer? The couples or the stones? Parted from
bedframe, still you long to support a load, to uphold
in air or water. At the foundry, they whorled your
ends inward, formed a lyre. How could they know you’d
dock at last in mud, cast up? Scroll-ends of iron-fancy
sunk near woodland ferns. Your thin bars strung for
the finder, your music chromatic and lost.