Clouds and Trees

"Nothing ever goes away enough or arrives enough,/ and I want to cry when I think of my heart,/ muscle pounding in muscle, greedy always for joy." – 'A Warning', Eric Anderson

Month: October, 2011

What’s Going On

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Relative

I walked back from the lake,
it wasn’t sunset but after.

There was a perfect mist in the grass.

I saw people standing in it,
other people picturing them,
everyone standing in the mist.

I wished the mist were at my feet,
perfect layer of cloud, cold and heat,
water and air, meeting in the grass.

I realized they probably couldn’t see it,

the people standing in the mist.
Then I knew it surrounded me too,
all of us standing in the mist.

I thought about birdsong.
I heard it earlier in the trees,
too high up to see them.

Nothing, just music and leaves.

I opened my ears for it,
and there it was–

Rocks …from A Portrait of a Bird

He slowed down a little bit. Another storm last night; he could see patches of black ice on the road where the river must have flooded. The radio crackled quietly. He looked out the window and shifted down a gear. The water had been very high and further down the river there would be rapids.

He parked in the gravel lot. The sunlight was grey but the sky was bright blue and the river, dark green and brown. It was higher than he had ever seen it. He stepped through the gate with the perpetual ROAD CLOSED sign. He tied and retied his scarf as he walked; it was much too cold out. Eventually, the gravel road turned into a path of large, shattered rocks. It looked like the river had exploded. The trees along the bank, already in the midst of their winter nudity, had been exposed completely, the dirt entirely stripped from their roots. He remembered taking a walk here with his parents right after that storm a few weeks earlier. He had been looking down at his feet, stepping carefully, and when he had looked up his dad had been helping his mom walk over the rocks.

Two huge fisherman were walking towards him. They nodded as they passed. One was missing his arm above the elbow, the sleeve of his waders held closed against the water with a rubber-band.

He had come here hoping to find something he remembered from that walk a few weeks before. There had been a small island in the middle of the river, just a copse of trees, a mound of dirt, and a mat of leaves. It split the river and forced it to rush through a small channel. The rapids there had risen to almost six feet, churning and dropping and folding back onto themselves. At the time he had stood there staring at those waves crashing in place until his parents had said they were going to keep walking.

When he reached the spot he recognized the island but the water had risen too high. It was a deluge, coming endlessly, the water rushing straight over the rocks. He stood there and stared at it for a minute. He took a deep breath of cold air and let his shoulders relax. Once, he had jumped across these rocks and finally stood on that island. It had been warmer then and the water was lower so he had taken the risk and gone into the river. It had started to rain lightly on him as he stood in the middle.

As he neared the car a certain part of the river caught his attention. The water slowed into a wide curve and a dead tree jutted out from the bank . He remembered his dad saying something odd about it.

“Right there is where I want you to scatter my ashes.” He pointed over towards the tree trunk.

“Okay, Dad. Not for awhile now.” He had breathed out a laugh. All he could think of was when he was younger and used to pick up sticks from the path and throw them into the river. He would chase them downstream as they dipped and bucked through the rapids, eventually either getting caught in the rocks or racing ahead until they blended with the water and he lost sight of them.

Accident, Prone

In a more childish time,
I didn’t try too hard
to understand myself.
I’d slip on words I wrote down
in the kitchen, cloudy days
when I’d pray not to be left
alone in that house.

In between my skull and brain
there must have been a network of springs
because I never felt the shock
of finding out that my mother was in
a hospital bed with a hole in her brain
and she couldn’t remember the truck
but who the fuck would?

She spilled hot water on herself
the skin on her hands boiling up
like the 6th plague.
My kitchen is such a dangerous place,
Goddamnit Mom stop falling down!
Amazing how you can be embarrassed
in an empty house.

If there was a God, the 11th plague
would have been insanity for everyone but myself.
I would be halfway through the Atlantic Sea
when I would risk a look back, hear a whisper–
my Mom saying she loves me.
Even a place of craziness
can be called home.

I would drop my rod,
the sea would close over me,
and I would join my mom
in that promised land.

No Autumn

Sometimes I think,
“These trees must be made of birds,”
phoenix-burns in crisp, bird-shapes,
crushed into ashes under boot-feet.

Come spring, I hope to God
I hear birds chirping, birds
bursting from the trees,
like shades of green.