Spring in the Maritimes, Part 3 (Written June 19)

Spring in the Maritimes, Part 3


My hands find the wild mint

Among the tall grasses by the steps

That lead down to our little garden.


It is the day before the day before

Summer is due to arrive, but pardon

Me if I remain skeptical. The risk


Of frost has passed, though I’m not

So sure. Clouds and a cold, brisk

Wind from the north threaten to spoil


The occasion. One more twenty pound

Bag of sheep manure, and the soil

Should be ready for planting.


For us, since we’ve neglected to grow

From seed, this means transplanting,

Which is dicey just before a storm.


The onions are thriving and I can see

That the strawberries have formed,

Though later than usual, like molasses.


Everything is green, the bushes,

The trees, the plants, the grasses.

Everything is full, everything lush,


Including the weeds. The forsythia,

The lilacs, and the japonica bush

Have all bloomed and faded.


Now is the time for roses,

Day lilies, and irises, shaded

From the full glare of the sun.


Tomorrow we’ll put in the tomatoes,

If it’s not too cold. Then the fun

Begins, the weeding and the hoeing.

Elizabeth (Written June 18)



The other appears blue and translucent,

Open, ready to let in whatever

It sees, as light passes through


A drop of rain that catches on a leaf.

Which Elizabeth is it that looks at me,

The bright, blue-eyed woman who loves


To laugh, or the soft, brown-eyed woman

Who’s not so sure of herself, who’s

Inward and meditative, her eye


Half closed, as if to hide its difference?

It’s not a defect, not at all,

But it is an oddity,


And you do not want to be viewed

As an oddity. When I first met you,

I was discomfited, but you also,


I could see, were discomfited,

And annoyed, because, like others,

I had identified you with your most


Aberrant feature. You see people

Seeing you for the first time,

And tagging you as the woman


With differently colored eyes,

While you know that inside,

You are one and the same.

Poems Are Like Prayers (Written June 17)

Poems Are Like Prayers


Your idle hand lies


On the sheet of white paper.


Life becomes fractured

When there is no present,

Only a faint memory of a past,


And an expectation of a future

That is more of the same,

At best. Only time is indifferent


To time. Poems are like

Prayers, where the questions

And the answers coincide.


One day without would be like

Missing a beat. What is outside

Slips inside. You suffer


In silence, as if from an ugly

Skin disease, which you try

Not to scratch because it is


Unbecoming. Only paradise

And the sea can release

You from your obsession.

Nomad (Written June 16)



But take the weight off your feet,

Come in, sit down. You’ve been away

For such a long time, you must be


Very tired. Make yourself comfortable.

There, that’s better. I’ll make a pot of tea.

A few years ago, when you decided to hide


From the world, I was so worried.

It was after your mother died,

When you quit your job and came home.


You wouldn’t talk to me, or let me

See you. You began to roam

From town to town, never staying


Very long in any one place. You found

A job and a boyfriend in Holland, maybe

Not in that order. You seemed to lose


Your focus in life, but that’s just from my

Point of view. I have to say, you look really

Good, so something must have gone right.

With Solemn Resolve (Written June 15)

With Solemn Resolve


She walked low behind the house,

Into the field of corn stubble,

To be by herself. Dressed in white,


Ghost-like, she drifted further

Down, to where the sun was bright

On the little stream at the bottom


Of the hill. I’d said something

That hurt her and with solemn

Resolve she intended to get away,


As far as possible, from anything else

Of a similar nature I might have to say.

Even the presence of her brother


Was not enough to induce her to stay.

What was he, after all, but another

Thorn in her side? Being absent


The rest of that day, and for the days

That followed, she was more present

To us than anyone else could ever be.

Their Enormous Bones (Written June 14)

Their Enormous Bones


You were describing their enormous bones

When your mind wandered a little and you said

Boners instead. Is that what it felt like, there


Under the soft skin, where the head

Meets the neck of the shaft and the hair

Hangs down like a rope? Such calm, slow


Creatures, with such sad eyes, I wonder

If they do have an inkling of the blow

That awaits them. One after the other


They are whisked away, and that must say

Something. But they keep going, another

Day, as in a dream that carries them along


To the gates of the slaughterhouse. Let’s use

The time we have, they seem to say, as long

As it lasts, to eat and sleep and roam at will.

Reluctantly (Written June 13)



These walls cannot contain the sadness

That I feel, and the sense of loss,

As I sit here by your side.


How calmly you lie there, with your eyes

Wide open, taking everything in.

How sure and steady


Your gaze, while around you the room

Wobbles and careens. How quickly,

When the time is right,


You’re able to leave all this behind, as you

Pass from one realm to the next.

And how glad I am


To know that you no longer suffer any pain,

And that I can, if reluctantly,

Let you go.

The Viewpoint of the Tree (Written June 12)

The Viewpoint of the Tree


To experience the viewpoint of the tree

Go into the silence and the solitude.

Let time expand a thousandfold.


Let long periods go by during which

Nothing happens. Perhaps the wind blows

In the top branches. A white, billowy cloud


Passes over. A bird settles on a limb

And defecates. A coyote, proud

Of its catch, which it holds tight


In its mouth, stops below and sniffs.

Climb up, limb upon limb, right

To the top. No cause for alarm.


Let the sap rise in you, through

Your legs, your trunk, and your arms.

Lift up your arms. Become the tree.


What the tree has, you will have.

You are rooted, stable, and free.

Around you everything revolves.



The Unspoken Compact (Written June 11)

The Unspoken Compact


Secure against its own,

With no fear of sabotage

From within, the family


Unit, as fragile as glass,

By a process of alchemy

Becomes the bedrock


Of a strong community.

But when the shock

Of a gratuitous act


Of violence hits home,

The unspoken compact

Threatens to unravel,


And it is left to each

Individual, alone,

To make amends.

Recurring Themes (Written June 10)

Recurring Themes


There are themes that recur,

Like old age, death, and despair.

Sometimes a haunting dream


Will work itself out in words.

Nature’s beauty has come to seem

Like an antidote to these dark


Broodings. Anger is love’s

Rough exterior, like the bark

Of an old oak tree.


Whatever is strong enough

Will emerge on the page, free

From any control


That I might try to impose.

I’ve learned that my role

Is to watch and take note


Of the little things that make

All the difference. When I wrote

That a young boy, Ned, had lost


The sense of his own sexual

Identity, I did not know at what cost

This would be, for him and for me.


Fathers and sons, fathers and

Daughters, even when they flee

From each other, tie


So many of these poems

Together. I do not ask why.

Others explore the pure


Mechanics of the process,

As if that might be the cure

For such intense inwardness.