Come Sit Beside Me

Come,

sit beside me

on this dark step

and wait with me

for the moon to rise.

Listen with me

to the silver words

as the moon cushions

the blue darkness.

Our hands join.

Our shoulders touch.

The blood alive

beneath our skin.

The warm night air

flowing in and out

of our lungs.

Do we hear the same music?

Do we see the same living shapes

in the constellations?

I put aside this idle curiosity

and bask in the rhythm

of our simple, silent

heartbeat.

Mullein in the Time of Pneumonia

A tightness prompts

a constricting

that pulls a string

that moves in a creeping current

up to my throat

but the air tickles and

try though I might

I cannot suppress the cough

that barks into the night.

I slip out of bed

to sit alone in the chair

beside the sky-dark window.

It is then I hear in my lungs

the murmur of living Mullein,

even though her stalwart stalk,

budded in summer with buttery blossoms

stands dry and brown

in winter’s garden.

Stay with me, Verbascum thapsus,

for I am lonely with fever

and fear edges my breath.

Blanket my chest

with the soothing sage-gray

of your lush and velvety leaves.

We can be allies, I proffer:

help me heal

and you will always be welcome

wherever you set your roots,

be it in the lawn

the lettuce bed

under the apple tree or

among the pumpkins in their patch.

I never doubted her promise

or questioned her advice

and now, old friends,

with every spring

and grateful lungs

I watch for her return.

Each in Its Season

Each in Its Season

 

It is barely April

and the much maligned dandelion

is among the first arrivals.

She comes hurling herself at our lawns uninvited.

Is that why she is unwelcome?

Radiant little being!

Look at her glowing cheeks

and love her for her steadfast devotion.

 

Meanwhile, we watch impatiently

for our garden darlings:

the tender tulips of May

the pomp and peonies of June

the irises so independent

lilies lithe and lovely in July’s heat.

 

Following these divas

the umbels of elders flower

like points of sweet cream dappled in a basket

and the heady scent of valerian

soothes our sleep through open windows.

 

Soon Queen Anne’s lace

fringes every field and meadow

and ornamental jewelweed

sways tall and taller, pink and laughing

at the stalwart efforts and dense yellow of goldenrod.

 

And then the asters of August,

appearing right on time,

first as questions,

later as purple answers.

 

Each in its season.

Each with its reason.

Why here,

why now?

Choosing to live

is all.

Sea Lavender

Limonium carolinianum        

 Her territory:

the essence of temporary,

the uncertain, beaten, worn

and ever-moving, ever-changing breath

where sea and moon

exchange their greetings.

 

She thrives,

indeed can only survive

among shore rocks and marsh grasses,

her roots anchored

in soft and spongey sea mud.

The air she breathes is cold and salty.

Her taut, thin stems,

wrapped in seaweed

and the papery remains of crabs,

branch into spikey statements

of tiny blue-gray flowers,

sprays of pale delicacy

that hint at her tough tenderness.

 

She’s weathered a lot of storms,

has many tales to tell.

But she saves them.

And when all the other flowers

are dead or dormant

and it’s winter

and we look for warmth and stories,

there she is,

reminding us

that the tide advances

and the tide recedes,

so send your roots down deep

and hold your head up high.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Bear

Go then, Great Bear, to your den beside the frozen pond,

and there retreat as the Cold Moon

traces its arc in the star-frosted sky.

 

Sleep now, for winter is long,

your breathing slow and shallow

as the sun tosses its golden coin

and turns to catch it.

 

Dream, now, of roots and berries,

of the plant medicine that will heal us when we awaken

with the sun’s return.

 

Rest, as Ursa Major, your spirit cousin in the sky,

points the way to Polaris

and shows us each

the way to our true north.

Owl

The Owl of this hour of wonder

–as old as the year–as cold as the frost—

–as weary as the trees as they let go their leaves–

Perched on the limbs of fading light, she has dozed through the days of December.

 

Imagine her now turning her head to gaze wide-eyed into this darkness.

With the patience that wisdom bestows

she makes a slow survey of the moonlit path to your door.

Grandmother of the forest, Guardian of the graves on the hill,

keep watch with us

as we light our candles

as we kindle our fires.      

The Darkest Night

On the longest, darkest night of the year

a noble deer appears

at the northern edge

of the starless sky,

her antlers branched

like the brown limbs

of brooding oaks.

Through winter’s frozen curtain

shines a pale light

and then another

and another growing brighter

as Mother Deer carries aloft

the life of the new sun

like candles on the tree of life.

Watch as she flies over the sleeping houses

leaving the gift of warmth,

the blessings of light,

the promise of the sun’s return.

Solstice, 2016

Day of Light and Laundry

On this day of light and laundry

a lift of the heart

and then an unmatched sock

brings you close to tears.

A sunpatch among fallen brown leaves

and you draw in your breath

with the surprise

of remembering.

The rake scrapes singles into piles

over and over and then

its claws uncover

an unwary blossom.

What were you thinking,

arm or rake or flower?

All the unknowing

pushes you into an unlit corner

where you linger in lazy musings

as the bedsheets flap on the line

in the neighbor’s back yard.

In the Beginning

In the beginning was the dream

and the dream was made woman

and the woman took her brushes

and washed the sky clean

picked up her broom

and swept the desert of all its bones

with her shovel

she cracked open

the mute clay.

 

She called hunger by its true name

and strode through the forests of fear,

gathering up the broken limbs

and fallen flowers.

 

In the landscape of an unspoken morning

she piled the bones and stars

the sand and clay and twigs

the stillborn hearts

and unspent angers.

 

High was the pile

hot the center of creation.

 

Deep in her elation

she plunged her hands

into the burning sky,

she stirred the dying sea,

she lifted the rim and scrabble

pressed fast the fish and feather

crumbled the clumps of stubborn clay.

 

She turned and turned the pile

of what was,

then spread it like a blanket

on the infant land naked of hope and

unadorned with memory.

 

On the blanket of what was

she rested from her work

and dreamed she was a seed

and the seed dreamed it was a garden

and the garden dreamed this beginning into being.

Hibiscus

I pick one flower

a perfectly red hibiscus

place the plucked end in water

hoping it will drink and

stay with me for a while

stay alive though I know

the picking will shorten its time

has already changed its fate

from coquette to languid beauty.

Longevity is hardly the question now.

Perhaps there is no question.

There is only this looking, looking

this small remorse that I have interfered

this sigh for my clumsy human flesh

that steps on grasslings

leaves footprints in pink sand

in mud

picks a hibiscus

and only then remembers

that fate surprises us

picks us from our bush

our limb

so I place this perfect blossom

behind my ear

its bawdy pollen-laden stamen

observing me

from the corner of my eye:

here we go together

stepping out

to see what we can see.