The Hanging Branch

 

 

A long branch
Hangs delicately
Hooked in some miraculous moment
Of windy flight.
Pulled towards the earth
With its mold of leaves,
But caught
by the branch of the tall, great tree
whose dusky bark
lit by the angle
of the dying light.
was once on the trunk of what had been
Itself.
Hooked by a small fork
Set in a new position
It had never yet considered.

When I was younger
Such seeming impermanence
Tempted me to help gravity in its work.
Throwing sticks and stones in play
to knock it from such uncertain fate
Dancing, joyous with the game of it.

Now that I am old
I see the way in which
Its graceful equilibrium
Is yet another gentle motion
In the flowing stillness
Of the forest.
And I sit and feel the quiet
Of its breath.

The Obsidian Knife

Remembering the Big Obsidian Flow, Newberry Caldera, Oregon

 

The black stone that is not stone but 

a piece of earth’s mysterious bowels

Astonished by its appearance in the oxygenated landscape 

Its molecules frozen in that millisecond of emergence.

 

We, the humans, see what it can be.

It is the knife that cuts both ways

Slices atom from atom

Parting astonishment from astonishment

So that we can slice so thin

That even flesh does not pause in its production of cell upon cell

And has no recognition of the parting.

 

It is like the bird,

Cutting the air for such a brief moment that

Air needs not know its passing.

 

From where has this blackness come,

From where this sharp flight?

What can we do but find it

Somewhere in the inventory 

Of the soul.

Angles of Reflection

Standing at the open window
looking out
at the beauty of the brightening world
For one brief moment
a drop of water nestled
in the branches of a winter tree
has caught the beams of sun
at some exacting slant
And a ruby of the purest light
gleams brighter
than the planet Mars.

And just as I can barely breathe
As not to lose that sight,
It has become an emerald
of an unknown shade of green
So clear
It makes me draw that breath
to taste it in my breast.

But before I can then breathe it out
to scatter in the world
It has become a crystal, which,
in evanescence,
Vanishes
As if none of this
Had ever been.


We are in gently whirling motion
with the earth.
The angles of reflection
are in constant flux.
But what was seen
is stored in cells
made of that same uncanny light
Where I can sip it now
from time to time
and savor that exquisite beauty
On my tongue.

Woods in Late August

The birds are quiet in the forest.

The hemp grows tall

The music of the streams themselves 

Holds a silence in its womb.

 

The breath of brittle  grasses 

Has paused.

Even the flies have ceased

Their restless seeking. 

And the yellow-bodied wasps

Have come to rest.

 

Only the rusty orange butterfly settles

With its dusty wings

On a quiet blue-grey flower

Hardly bending to it’s weight.

 

The haze of heat hovers

Over distant hills

Not quite like its cousin, mist.

More portentous, more distrusting

Of what must be.

 

Something lingers around our edges

Questioning. “Will there be?”

And “Watch for us”.

The heat holds some promise

Yet some menace in its breast.

 

Embrace me.

The sweat is salty 

Yet so sweet. 

 

The silent yearning of the forest 

Rises like a memory

Of of some long forgotten scent

Through the thick green of the leaves

And the still  light.

 

The Streaming Rain

 

 

The path up the hill in the forest

Has been walked by so many feet

Both human and much wilder

 For so many thousands of years.

I see the prints of their passing. 

The mud vibrates with all that life.

 

Today water courses down.

The rains of days and days streaming towards ground

In such sheets of clear drops

Onto the tops of trees 

Their leaves now open and green.

 

Dripping down through boughs and branches 

To leaf-mold and dirt below

 Seeking the places where the ground is lower

To run in streams

New and old.

All these droplets of water 

Desiring, as they fall

Yearning to collect themselves into one

Into stream, into river, into ocean

 

They must be together again.



And some human hand has made a small dam

Of rocks right here

In the gathering stream

And another just there to guide it

With gentle redirection, so sure

To plummet down the side of the gulley

Into a bigger  swift-rushing torrent,

Singing loudly there

Where it will not seem to make a river of the path 

Where humans pass.

 

But plunge on down streambeds,

Down hillslopes, to ditches,

To gutters, to river

To swell its waters

And bring the leaf dust and the soil that they found

 

 Thus make the waves of that water so brown, with such frothing

To stroke the banks of earth,  grass and trees

And caress the soil to come join them

 

Racing away in some wild heathen dance

To once again all be one

In that cold caldron of salt and sea creatures

That unending, immense

Soup of life.



The Negative

 

I pause beneath the dripping leaves

Chanting lines of children’s rhymes

 Happy in my walking time.

Then arching on  the crowded hill

 Lining through the pines,

 A ragged wave of silvery ash 

 Standing naked still.

The photographic negatives

 Preserved with those green  positives

 For that Grand Developer

To continue some great chemistry 

Of sun and soil and wind and time

That flows along with its own rhyme.

 

 

 

 

 

This Green and Luminous Fire

Spring rain can set the woods aflame

With that most gentle and successful fire 

That lights with life itself the bark that slept 

In meditation,  waiting

 

Green fire as intense and yet diffuse as love

That quickens and yet calms 

More constant than the moon and stars

In transformation, waking.

 

I’ve  walked the forests in the sun

And dreamt the dreams of these warm trees

Their leaves so firm and quaking

I’ve  kicked the brown mold on the ground

To send its scent, ascending.

 

But it’s in the warmish rain of spring

With the whole world  still and waiting

This softest fire sets alight

A deep internal reckoning. 

 

This green must burn my heart to ash

No separation lasting

It’s soft blaze sears away all lies

Its beauty, unrelenting

 

 

Winter Light With Birds

In the morning
what looked like rain
sparkling in the air
was just the light
crinkling
through the little bits of mist
Here and there
As the sun broke
over the southern hills

Now the warm planes of glowing light
Have settled so briefly
Along the tops of the hills to the east
Lingering for a few more moments
in the north
Before fading
into grey.
The air is dimming,
Drained of sparkle.
Quieting.

In between these moments
of shifting light
The winter warmth radiated
from the pure blue
And birds flew
in all their crazy patterns
In, this, the same world
we seem to inhabit
But yet in another perhaps
Entirely.

Those birds,
Ignorant of the thoughts
of all of us
in these strange blocks
of stone and wood.
Not heeding our motions
except in odd moments
of curiosity,
perched on a wire,
Watching.
As when we stop
to hear the sounds
Of what we count
as song.
.
Here we are.
Our lives stretching out
This way and that
through the air.
On the wind
we sniff the fragrance
of one emotion
Or another.

A message across the room
Or across the globe
Thousands of miles
Carried by the light
By the wind
By the air.

Random.
Like the flights of birds.
Finding its mark like
the falcon,
Soaring then plunging down
through the warm
afternoon sun.

 

The Dream

 

“Swim,” I said, “Come swim  with me!”  

 Soon tide shifts from dark to light. 

 We float adrift in some vast sea

 Where forms are hazy, lost from sight. 

 

Here we dwell where even stars

 In their nature are not bright 

Seen through remnants of desire

Present only through some sense 

Drawn from nights we spent with fire. 

 

Time is done, this space untethered, so immense. 

The forms of day can only catch us 

By setting subtle  traps of pretence. 

 

“Swim,” I said, “Come swim with me” 

The passage through from night to night

 Is sought in dream and memory. 

 

Nothing hold us from our flight 

Through dim, cool tunnels drawn by tide

Concealed from senses smell and sight 

Discovered only when we slide 

Through some great hole unknown by mind 

That travels inside to inside.

 

Here where we drift, we’re far from blind 

This nothing is where sight begins

 Here exists the unconfined.

 

Swim with me. “Come swim with me!”

Dark is drifting into light

Let us surface from this sea

Yet hold the vastness of this night. 

Let us slip the reins of earth

That grasp and clutch to hold us tight.

 

Swim the swelling of that well

And in the silence calm and deep

Float where only being dwells.

 

dav

Breath

(A POEM FOR MY GRANDDAUGHTERS TO GROW UP ON)

 

Breathing.

Listen.
The world is breathing.

Breathe through your ears
Breathe through your eyes
Stretch breath out
Beyond the skies.

The ocean is breathing
Breath never lies
Its rhythm like wind
that soughs and dies
Speaks of the weather
where the water sighs
at the end of each wave
that the tempest tries
to smash on the shore
Without pity, contrives
to continue its swing
with whatever
the moon tides
can bring.

Feel what it feels
This huge enterprise
of breath going in
of breath going out.

The wind breathes
with gasps,
with sighs and
with songs.
Who knows to what
tense it belongs?
The present. The past.
None of them last.
Just the breath
Breathing the breath of the vast
Breathing along with the breath
of birdsong
Breathing the air
Breathing the light
Breathing along through the death of the night.

Breathing the phrases of music
on keys
of pianos and harpstrings
and in wings of the bees.

Breathe with it all
Breathe with it, please.