Earth’s Eye (Written February 27)

Earth’s Eye

 

And what is Earth’s eye,

That sees what is to come,

Or tongue, that tastes

 

Of ashes, or heart,

That grieves the wastes

Of yesterday?

 

What ruin, from here

To China, awaits

The coming generation?

 

What forest, stripped

Bare, unfit for veneration?

What ocean, overheated,

 

Acidic, a dead zone

For animals cheated

of sanctuary?

 

What parched land,

What polluted tributary,

What dying lake,

 

What city, smothered

In filth, to make

Still more cars

 

For the insatiable road?

What faulty thinking mars

This creature’s going forth?

Something’s Not Right (Written February 26)

Something’s Not Right

 

Until the day he came to tell us

What happened, we could only guess

And imagine the worst. My wife

 

Thought they’d had a fight, and Meg

Had had to make a run for her life,

Taking the children to her mother,

 

Or to her sister, who was four years

Younger, and lived in another

Part of the province. I thought

 

It must have to do with little Tommy’s

Illness, and not wanting to be caught

Short, Meg had taken a room

 

To be near him. Ned, we knew,

In the best of times, was a gloomy

Sort, and never had much to say,

 

And so it was a surprise,

That windy, rainy, October day,

When he came knocking at our door.

Old Friends (Written February 25)

Old Friends

 

I approach these volumes like old friends,

weathered, heavy with neglect, dusty

Around the edges, sometimes brittle,

 

And from one, at random, find

The line that tells me the riddle

For the day, that sets the stage

 

For my play, like the opening

Bars of a concerto, the cage

That contains the song of the bird.

 

One line, one word, is enough,

And one rule to observe,

As it begins to unfold

 

As it should. Be quiet, be still,

And what needs to be told

Most certainly will.

Her Name (Written February 24)

Her Name

 

I could freeze her name in an ice cube

And drop it bleeding into the snow bank,

Or send it rolling down the hill

 

Into the river, away from here,

Into the bay and the deep chill

Of the ocean. Or I could hide it

 

In the basement or the attic, where

No one would look. Or I could write it

In a poem, in plain view for all

 

To see, for her to see, knowing

How much she hates the way I call

It out. For there comes a time

 

When I don’t care what she thinks.

It’s her name but my life. If it rhymes

It rhymes. It’s only a game.

A Heavy Pressure (Written February 23)

A Heavy Pressure

 

But here it happened. The room

In which I sought refuge became

The room in which I almost died.

 

I switched off the overhead light,

Sat on the edge of the bed, and tried

To ignore the loud voices

 

Downstairs. I was short of breath from

Shoveling snow, one of the choices

I had freely made that day.

 

I thought sitting quietly by myself,

Breathing deeply, would go a long way

Toward fixing whatever was wrong

 

With me. Instead, I felt a heavy

Pressure at the base of my throat

And when I tried to call for help

 

No sound came out. I tried to get up

But lost my balance and fell.

The noise of my falling shook

 

The house and frightened my wife,

Who, however, took immediate

Control of events and dialed

 

Emergency. The quick work

Of the paramedics, such mild-

Mannered men, saved my life,

 

I’m sure. Now I follow all the rules

I once flouted, and lead a settled life

With my wife, and our two cats.

Unwelcome Visitor (Written February 22)

Unwelcome Visitor

 

A visitor from an obscure religious order

Walked unannounced into the room

Where my wife was sleeping.

 

Would it be better to come back

Some other time, he said, keeping

His voice to a whisper. I agreed

 

That it would, but he remained

Where he was. Shall I lead

You in prayer? There’s no need,

 

I replied, from my point of view,

And as for my wife you can see

She’s sleeping. The sense of hearing,

 

He assured me, is the last to go.

As politely as I could, at the end

Of my patience, I showed him the door.

The Road (Written February 21)

The Road

 

A road once graded for cars,

With stones embedded in hard earth,

Leads westward toward the blue hills,

 

And eastward still deeper into the woods.

Family-sized apple orchards and the spills

Of heavy stone foundations give proof

 

That people once lived in this wild country.

At the bottom of a ravine I can see the roof

Of an abandoned house. Where did I make

 

The mistake that has brought me here,

to this fix? What way should I take,

to escape? Both seem equally fraught.

 

At one time people traveled this road

And met other people, but I seem caught,

Far from everyone, with nowhere to go.

Were She To Die (Written February 20)

Were She To Die

 

It needed something like that

To see the emptiness of the promise

I’d made, when I was young

 

And innocent. Were she to die

And I to be left adrift among

The drifting crowds, to live

 

Would be to die each day,

One more time. To give

Voice to the afflicted

 

Would be my singular consolation,

As meager as a snow flake. Conflicted,

Beaten, used up, I would have no

 

Reason to go on living, and my

Fondest hope would be to find

A way to end it all.

The River Song (Written February 19)

The River Song

 

The wind bundles itself into a bluish cloud

That moves over the white-capped mountain.

A bear comes down through the trees

 

And stands very still by the river’s edge,

Watching me. A deep winter freeze

Has turned this morning’s rain to ice

 

And made my journey all the more

Difficult. I’ve passed this way twice

But have yet to find my way out.

 

My wife and children wait for me below,

At the lodge. I can almost hear them shout

And give voice to their worry.

 

The sky grows dark, and the bear

Turns away, but I must not hurry

And make one mistake too many.

Not So Big (Written February 18)

Not So Big

 

What kind of big problem?

There is no big problem.

What looked like a big problem

 

Turns out to be not so big.

It takes the right tools

In the right hands, at the right time.

 

Things can be fixed, not always,

Of course, not on a dime,

But fixed, or remedied, or resolved,

 

Or if worse comes to worse,

We can live with them, absolved

Of responsibility, or we can

 

Die with them, nothing wrong with that,

It happens all the time, a man,

A woman, whichever, but not just yet.