Looking West Across the Marsh, Late Afternoon

The herons are preliminary
Scrawls, penciled faint against the sky,
Most with their bodies tilted at forty-five
Degrees to the imaginary
Horizon at the vanishing point,
Gliding in on barely discernible arcs;
Two are turning and curling their wings
In gestures of beckoning, invitation.

See now? Blades of marsh grass, one by one,
Lifted by the evening breeze from the sea,
Turn the colour of just-cooled iron
And fall, each severing its shadow.
Do the cattails waver? Do they gasp, or
Sigh as darkness bleeds over everything?

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Lilacs Convulsed the Sea

Hello again, it’s been a while
Since we walked that lonely mile
Together to an empty beach
Full of silences we couldn’t breach.

The moon brimmed full—all promises
Of love and lingering kisses
And quiet mornings with words unsaid
That never echoed in either head.

It lazed against a midnight sky
Where eons of light fell down to die.
It pulled ragged clouds across its face,
A yellowing shroud of tattered lace.

A scent of lilacs convulsed the sea,
A wistful spasm of memory
That built itself before our eyes
And lay limp and heavy on our thighs.

The tide went out and rolled back in
Tasting of where we’d never been.
I said to you and you said to me
Nothing much (discontentedly).

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The Spring Wind Cannot

Midnight in mid-June,
Lilacs heavy in the air.
I bare my neck now,
But the spring wind cannot find
All the places your lips touched.

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As the Sun Goes Down

Do not mistake these for slowness,
Not a lazy evening near the ocean
With the gentle-seeming stirring
Amongst black strands of seaweed
In shallows—for this is only the waves’
Awed whisper of the weight of the sea;

Not the bank of a blue heron
Into a faint breeze so it may stall
And pivot on the long axis drawn
Wing-tip to wing-tip through
The careful cupping of its wings
To touch down in water to feed;

Not these straggles of wild grasses
Like untrimmed hair fallen out of place
Over the brows of capes
Undercut stealthily by wind and water,
And not the frenetically shuttling swallows
Stitching their lives into the cliffs—

Even they seem in slow motion
To sandhoppers scouring the seaweed.
Only the tardigrade might know
The true measure of time; its thready
Pulse of geological eras
And the sun’s brief moment of flame.

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Looking for Lilacs

June 5—butter stays
Hard on the table—
I’d go looking for lilacs—
If I could find my long johns

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Spring Wind From the South

If age makes me blank and hum of piss
Remember that I now say this:
This inky apple blossom scent—
That perfumers from here to Ghent
Have tried and failed to reinvent
(With its aftertaste of a first kiss),
That every spring wind chases down
Our shirts and up our legs, and leaves

Our memories in fading tatters
Of home and work and other matters,
And finds all thoughts of stillness bound
Outside of time with strands of grief—
Only draws my mouth from your mouth
To close our distance, tending south.

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Recursions of Green (poems from old notebooks, January 2011)

There’s a poem where you step out
of a fountain’s column of water,
morning sun low behind you,

and the water stops as you leave it,
column branching in wide arcs
as lily stems below the flowers.

In that poem I have a cigarette
between my lips, a lighter in my hand
I am forever forgetting

in the liquid motion of your body
under thin, white linen,
in the music that follows you all day

among the ivory and gold and blue
geometries of the walls and courtyards
and arches and towers that echo

your laughter and each other
under the falcons and hawks
whose dance is choreographed

against the sky’s shifting blues
by the sweep of your hips,
the darts of your eyes.

It is a poem I have misplaced
somewhere amongst the dust and clutter
in a dark, neglected attic of my mind,

but I remember how you moved in it,
trailing, light as a Bernini veil in stone,
a spicy scent of oriental lilies

over green pools you looked into
as evening came, bent at the waist,
into the eyes of your reflection

holding recursions of green
pools holding you until your hair
fell over your eyes bringing night

and the moon was a white stone
falling into water.

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