Dear meadow vole disappearing into the woods

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 88 of 93 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2011

 

Meadow Vole, Field Mouse, or Meadow Mouse (Microtus pennsylvanicus)

“…he led them up the mountain’s brow,
And shews them all the shining fields below.
They wind the hill, and thro’ the blissful meadows go.”
— Virgil, Aeneid (6.641)[16]

 

Dear meadow vole disappearing into the woods
in the jaws of a cat who holds her head high
and does not slink, perhaps it is unwarranted

to think of assigning you the role of gladiator
borne away in death, departing through fronds
of grass toward Elysium. But couldn’t I

imagine you an unwilling foot soldier conscripted
daily into war? Casualty fallen anew to the enemy
(as always, as in tragedy, classically mismatched:

bigger, meaner, more cosmically predatory than you),
yes it’s merely nature, neutral as red fox or mink
or short-eared owls that hunt above tufted nest or

burrow. In winter, for short-lived sustenance,
you find, hidden under snow, green parts of plants.
Our lives: mere wingspan of months in the wild;

easy sport, soft, twitching target for the gods.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Panalangin

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 87 of 93 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2011

 

Kung mayroon mang santo, patron,
o diyosa ng bawa’t kalbaryo,

O mga Panginoon, patnubayan ninyo
kaming mga namamalagi sa pisngi

ng lupa: kapirasong guhit ng buwan,
kay layong anino ng haplos.

* * *

Prayer

What saints, patrons
and goddesses might there be for each calvary?

O watch over
us who merely live on the cheek

of this earth: that sliver-stroke of moon,
its distant illusion of a caress.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Landscape, Roofs Edged with Evening Rain

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 86 of 93 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2011

 

And here’s the rain again, my love: silvering
the mouths of gargoyles perched at the edge of the roof—

Such watery abundance pouring down, and no other recourse
but sieve and sieve it through. Who could stay aloof

through such constant battering? See how the rushing crowds
clutch their collars close, looking for the nearest roof

under which to shelter. Eventually it lightens; the curtains
shimmer a reprieve. A waterdrop slides down your cheek.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Harbinger

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 85 of 93 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2011

 

Dark silhouettes of pine, valleys fanned out
as open-sided buses crest the ridge at dawn.

Frost-trails of breath lingering on the coldest
morning of the month so far. Tin shanties hold

their chilled sides close along the hills.
In one, a naked lightbulb: its tungsten

yellow glow above a kitchen sink,
where a grandmother is heating coffee

and putting the eggs in it to boil.
You glimpse her in the window as the bus

rolls by— lit end of her cigar
poised in her mouth, eyes scanning

the day for what warmth it will bring.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Mobius

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 84 of 93 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2011

 

The flower dangles by its stem; the stair-
case peels its progress, plank by plank,

diminishing into that well of light
we call a landing: what shore suspends

midway between the gradual earth,
the gradual sky? Night turns to day,

and day to night, reversing strip that
lightens at the edges. Lovers meet

and then soon part: whispers in the hedge,
while in the air, haloed and beaten,

disc that floats like labor’s emblem, its
coat-of-arms. Burnished and driven, I lip

the rain that poems the smallest flame,
that dangles the flower from its stem.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Asters

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 83 of 93 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2011

 

You want to know how many hours remain
on the fringed lilac faces of these clocks—

Oh take heart, unstrap your sandals, walk by
the shore, leaving the animal that’s lowered

its head to nuzzle wet sculpted sand. And then
come back to lay beneath the windowsill—

You’ll hear the honeybee still sharpening
its rhetoric, the far-off notes made

by bodies nested in burr and fiddlehead fern.
The latch of the gate falls close at evening’s

approach. Its brassy little sound bursts
like a small blue blossom puncturing the dark.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Landscape, with Things Falling from the Sky

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 82 of 93 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2011

 

It ticks, the iris underneath: the heavy-lidded
eye in its leathered sac blinks open, mercurial,
at the slightest touch. So falls the sky in fable:

as a leaf, as a flutter of feathers, as an acorn
pinging across a table of rock. Fear is the room
where it all echoes; or love. A galaxy is only

a dark umbrella someone opens so rain can streak
the grass. When all the water’s gone, the ribs shine
dull silver. In the spaces far between are stars.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

The word of the day

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 81 of 93 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2011

 

is iridescent: sheen of no particular color or shape, but sheen nonetheless— volatile and contractual, dependent on the grace of granite or the voluptuous ooze of oils, the scaled and crusty matter they say is proof that shells shed tears. No matter where it goes, light leaves a trace, some hint of a refrain, slight as a tendril rising from depths no one has neared. No matter how late I rise, or early, there it is in the particulars ringing your face: faint bronze-tipped hairs, the halo of a sigh receding into the pillow; each finger a pilgrim seeking the road, still guided by heat, the last electric body it touched.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Shortcuts

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 80 of 93 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2011

 

At church on Sundays, I tend to forget
the right sequence of words in the Nicene
Creed. My ten year old squeezes my elbow

—she thinks I’m skipping words, going too
fast (just like the way I drive), merely
impatient to be done with it and get to

our destination. I’ve tried to explain
that my ability to remember the standard
version was ruined, ever since Father Jean-

Marie Chang of Lourdes Church on Kisad
Road in Baguio had an epiphany many years ago,
and created a thirty-minute “fast-track” mass.

It started at noon and ended in enough time
so folks could make it to the all-you-can-eat
buffet at the Country Club, or back home

a few streets away before the chicken stew
even had a chance to cool. Tucking, trimming,
and compressing, he also delivered homilies no more

than five minutes long. I’m sure the bishops fumed,
but no one could deny his flock soon outnumbered
those at other churches. His busy, practical

parishioners soon learned to cut through
repetitious language, the God from Gods
and Light from Lights, the true God from

true Gods. He’d even thought to streamline
salvation for us (no longer for us men— all this
predating gender-speak). There are times though,

when I make a more conscious effort to slow down,
to remember those parts of the sonorous old language
that make me think of cool vaults and flying

buttresses; and beneath them the molten yellow
of candle flame. And at the altar, sacristans
swinging censers filled with burning incense,

tendrils of smoke stalled somewhere between
fluttering and soaring, just like the hundred
and more petitions of the faithful on their knees.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Landscape, with Seemingly Unending Rain

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 79 of 93 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2011

 

I am thinking of questions to ask the poet
who writes lately of horoscopes and of death,
at least two things that have in common

the letter e, which might stand for the
eternal dilemma at their core: how much we
want to know what’s coming for us in a future

which no one can really see. It’s not quite the same
as the meteorologist forecasting days of rain,
tracking by radar the course of a hurricane

battering its way up the coast and across
the mountains, before dumping twelve to eighteen
inches of rain on the ground. Days and days later,

as the sky clears and the woods slowly begin
to dry, the families who fled low-lying regions
return to their homes after the evacuation

orders are lifted. We know some of them
will return to find everything as they
left it, except perhaps they might have

to throw all the food gone bad in the fridge
when the power went out. But at least some
of them will stop short in a muddy driveway

that once looked familiar, stare at a now empty
house lot strewn with fallen limbs and debris.
The next-door neighbor who decided to stay

through the worst of it, might come and
tell them what happened: how the waters rose
too quickly, how before nightfall, the river

currents pushed the house like a paper
boat under a bridge and out of sight.
And they will hug each other tearfully,

give thanks for their lives even while
bemoaning their losses, perhaps sinking
on their haunches or shaking their heads

in disbelief— While somewhere higher up
or inland, the rain will continue in its
own time, to make its way to the ground.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.