Dear season of hesitant but clearing light,

This entry is part 32 of 92 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2011

 

I see a trace of moon yet, though morning
is fully on its way. What flutters through
the screens of bamboo as if on the strains
of a highland flute? I love those times
when the body has not completely left
what embraced it last; when coming
down the stairs it glances back at the bed
where it lay, reviewing the rousing
and the gathering up of things, the lingering
farewell; unlatching doors, going out
and walking past the jasmine bushes just
starting to put out their little stars.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe

This entry is part 31 of 92 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2011

 

Who ordered rain? Who ordered tea?
Order ham and croissants, bubbly with cheese.
Order sheets of fondant. Practice French.
Say tuileries, say pamplemousse.
Tuck your hair behind your ear, pick up
your fork, don your bib. Pick up the hot
crust with your fingers. Don’t eat like a bird.
Don’t you love ribs? Hand me a plum.
What’s that wrapped in paper?
Who heard? The leaves are buzzing
with news of the world.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Territories

This entry is part 30 of 92 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2011

 

At a Mexican taqueria with my ten-year-old for lunch: the walls are vivid maize and papaya slashed with green. A family of clay lizards slithers cobalt and lime up the walls: What is poetry? I ask them, because a student has just come to me confessing he has discovered, after all, his poet’s heart. For a while, he was unsure about this territory. They don’t say anything, of course; they merely suspend against the stucco, cool in the noonday haze. If a petal from the forsythia in bloom at the edge of the woods drifts into the dog dish on the porch, what is its first country? In Latin, territorium means land of jurisdiction; with roots possibly deriving from terrere, to frighten. Somewhere the forsythia erupts in arches of yellow flame. Somewhere just beyond the border of my hearing, birds spar in the language of trills. Which one is the homely sibling? There is beauty, and there is work. When the sentinels look away, there is the catch in the throat, an opening yielding words that flutter like flags of secret or undiscovered countries.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Letter to Fortune

This entry is part 29 of 92 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2011

 

Dear hand that shakes the cup
and rolls the dice out on the table,
what is the luck of the draw today?
The trees stir their bagfuls of newly-
minted green. Somewhere, water tinkles
like silver. Even the hairs on your chest
are brushed with copper. Put on your crisp
white shirt, snap on your black bow tie, do
up your cummerbund and tails; and deal.
I never said I’d stopped playing. High winds
rearrange the clouds, having learned too
about this game of chance: your turn now
to guess which one is hiding the sun.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Letter to Love

This entry is part 27 of 92 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2011

 

Dear fellow wanderer, familiar now as my twin,
more handsome than my shadow: all these years
we’ve stopped at the same wayside inn to share
quick meals, a cup of coffee, talk about our days
and where we’ve been— And yet we never linger
longer than an hour, perhaps two, before the claims
of the world descend again. But now I don’t know
which is more magnetic: that tilt of sky, the road,
plain countryside rampant with scent, tall grass
where the wind could lift our names higher.
Memory or dream, was that your kiss under my
eyelid’s flicker? I miss you even before you’ve taken
leave. This morning is full of the cries of woodpeckers—
part ululation, part rusty hinge. Your heart goes
with them, or forages among the stones with sparrows,
trusting in what it finds. You never say So long
or Au revoir, only Next time will be sweeter.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Salutation

This entry is part 26 of 92 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2011

 

My heart bows to the field streaked
by the sun’s rare currency this morning

to the worries that call my name
over and over like I am their favorite child

to the ridiculous kindness
of the wild turkeys’ chatter

to you who’ve called
me stranger, friend, lover

to you who’ve sung me to sleep
and kissed me in doorways

to you who’ve made space
for me on this window-ledge of words—

And you on the edge of the field, I bow to you
all in shadow, your patience outlasting us all

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Letter to Leaving or Staying

This entry is part 25 of 92 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2011

 

Dear heart, the rain dresses all
in changeling colors: leaves that molt—
part celadon, part yellow— then turn pewter
where they drift on water and water reflects them
back as shimmer. New leaves, parchment-thin:
they’ve shaken off their flimsy tethers; and it’s not
even the season for leaving. Everything is just
beginning. Or beginning again. Every day,
the air thickens with shadow, with shape, with
odor. My hands bear the smells of mint, the stains
of verbena. The skin on my back remembers
when last it was touched. Sometimes I teach it
to grow colder. Sometimes even the smallest
flush of color reverses, like a wayward fever.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Villanelle of the Red Maple

This entry is part 24 of 92 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2011

 

Like a question surfacing in the mind of winter,
at last the red maple blossoms are open.
Rich red anthers, puffs of orange pollen—

they are why the white-throated sparrow sings
without stopping in the rain. How does such love happen
like a question surfacing in the mind of winter?

I trail my hand in shallow water, and dredge up
questions no one can answer. I have no weapon
against the richness of red, the puffs of orange pollen.

The lover asks, What need for questions,
when the soul has met its answer?
Fire might dampen,
doubt flicker in the mind’s unfinished winter.

The bird sings its pure white carol in the leaves,
singing, singing— as if the heart knew no other burden,
only the richness of red, the tenderness of orange pollen.

I let it sing, I let you come to me as you have all these years.
I had been tired, I had been lonely. I wanted to open
like a question meeting its answer at the end of winter:
heart rich with red, its joys stippled like puffs of orange pollen.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.