Defining a Plane
The ocean says, I'm loud but I'm free,
then hits the silent sand, however silence is made.
The beach roses are visited by a solitary bee
--as if this were some breathless English glade --
and takes its time, moving neither fast nor slow,
each sweet visit is on the clock, so it sings;
and the sunrise roses release a blushing glow
having been brushed by frail, transparent wings --
So the night is bumbled into day,
the way two elements meet on any shore;
I walk a razor's edge as my footprints wash away,
and silence has its roots down to the core.
judith benét richardson
Hamlet: The Serving Girl Speaks
The King can't sit in his chair --
someone is in it;
the Queen can't see what is there,
but it came uninvited, didn't it?
Well, but the King summoned it --
to separate from its body
just in a minute, a few seconds
of swordplay in the woods;
and only the old crows saw it, called it,
and picked it
later, of golden buttons;
buttons that won't be needed --
coatless, it sits in the Kings chair,
where the King can't sit
and only the King can see it, sees it;
seize it, he can't,
nor cram it back in its buttons;
this is the moment that he knows
1 Greetings from Tilden Lake
...so I threw wet wood on the fire,
the birch bark and punk that would burn.
And after snapping and hissing
the flame caught hold of the once living:
the more wet wood the better,
duty-free Johnny Walker,
the slow evenness of rain upon water.
That night the wood turned into dogs
gnawing the flames,
but by morning the fire died,
the ashes settled,
and the rain lifted a white veil
from the ground of sleepers.
Fire consumes what it loves.
The rest of us burn each day.
Because I was asleep
a loon paddled up to the dock I lay on,
emerging from its dive
to the water’s far side,
oblivious to a human spirit.
Sometimes I watch for them to surface
and never see them again.
Nor have I seen one walk,
though they build nests on land.
Born to the north,
the young learn to fly by running down the lake
until they forget the past.
At night the loon laughs in my sleep.
3 The Near North
Across the lake,
moose forage the shallows for roots .
What grows is pushed to winter.
Everything is quick to what it eats.
A red squirrel bounces off the woodpile,
three macadamia nuts stuffed in his mouth,
stale gift of the white god.
Rain or no rain,
he knows a lucky day when he sees one.
And the cat thrown off the highway
came and drank the milk last night.
I don’t know how he’ll survive the winter,
alone, hungry, scared.
But I guess he’ll do it like anyone,
being just as lonely, hungry, and scared
as he has to be.
4 Sunset on a Canadian lake
Wet with days of rain,
the bushes today blaze with birds.
They leap with each step, then
settle to the ground like autumn leaves.
Something just fell in the lake.
I didn’t see it.
I heard the water break and push together,
a silence in the place
where it searched between the stones.
I’m a stranger here entering a rain lit world,
following a soft path,
finding places to look under.
How does a dog’s soul become a tree?
How do I leave each day?
The loon slips south through her shadow.
Birch and maple set themselves on fire.