By The Edge Of The River After Dusk

For Jim C.

 

You always arrive alone
in the thought-transforming hour after dusk:
the time of day that unseen flocks of geese
ride on, when they leave for distant lakes.
You can hear their cacophonous chatter above
the thick cloud-line of trees,
and think of boats sailing for ports
that no one you know has ever seen.
And nearer still are the disembodied voices
of those who came to try and then turned away —
their shouting fills the absent spaces in their lives
like unfingered clay on the world-spinning wheel.
You know these voices well,
being undressed from your own dream
of substance in fists and in tongues.

Now these voices die away too
and your aloneness swells to the size
of the evening and seeks
the inviting spaces between the trees —
so everything is filled.
And you remember how you came here
on the well-marked path
that ran from the town to the grove.
You remember it clearly in your mind
when you look down and see nothing
but grass, dead leaves, and small stones.
The wandering vines have swallowed
your feet like the spreading of sleep.
But the swirl of the stream nearby
is a sound you can keep in your mind
like a soul plucked harp.
And the white eyes of the water
where it meets the old dam
is your sight.
While somewhere
just beyond the opposite side
of the creek —
awaits your other life.

 

Coming Into The Clearing

 

The vista opens before you
like the sudden swoop of a jay
in the forest reminds the dreamer
that everything is variations
of sound and light,
and starts to watch
the play of green on green.
While the howl of the wolf
in the distance is rising
through a sorrowful sky
for the deaths of everything
you see. You know that
his cry awakens the feelings
you are unable to say in words —
this shy poet of the wind.
But you wonder
if you have left something
behind on the trail —
an astute perception,
a far-reaching plan.
You want to look back,
but your eyes are already
filling with the shadows
the sun makes, sinking behind
a layer of clouds at the placid
end of the day. When all
the sparrows have ceased to fly,
but gather in trees and wait
for the dusk to arrive like
oblong silhouettes of stones.
And you remember the song
that is playing somewhere
just behind the smooth brow
of your head. And to your left
is the child who is never there
when you look. He is speaking
quietly to himself — perhaps
reciting the lines of a book
you loved to read aloud,
but have forgotten the name.
When you turn around,
all you can see
are his lips.