Not Yet There

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 12 of 92 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2011

 

The tree is intricate, a lattice
with many moving parts: sparrows,
robins, a blackbird’s creak.

The ox in the sky pulls the plow.
The archer strings his one good
arrow across the bow. The dipper’s

hinged against the lip of the grassy well.
And I have only my hungry heart, my
wobbly heart: I cart it everywhere I go.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Letter to the Street Where I Grew Up (City Camp Alley, Baguio City)

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 13 of 92 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2011

 

Dear alley bent like an L, shaped like an old
god’s crooked elbow, decorated with clotheslines
heavy with wash— Nearly thirty, I skidded down
your last few meters in reverse, learning to drive
a stick shift and nearly knocking over the island
of trash bins swarming with tribes of blue-black
flies. The neighbors came to their front steps
to heckle and hoot, disturbing the chickens
kept in rusted cages in each yard: the way
they carried on with cackling, you’d think
there was an egg thief in the trees. Almost
a lifetime since I’ve left, but still I see the vivid
verdigris of rusted roofs, the graveled lane
where children sat in empty lading boxes,
then tilted themselves into the wind—
And so have I. Years later, I startle
from sleep or wakeful dream, thinking
the dwarf yellow sun brings artifacts
from that other time: a map, directions
written in code by unfaithful gods.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Between

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 14 of 92 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2011

 

Whistle of wingbeats skimming the trees,
long skein of road on which we travel—
I don’t want to ask anymore about time
or provisions. I don’t want to think
about the end. The light is milky
as tempera, tentative as flight.
The hydrangea bush we thought
was dead has come back, pushing new
buds of green. At night, the garden
pillows unsaid words and dreams.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Parable of Sound

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 15 of 92 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2011

 

Never made new, only
made over— And so at the end

of the tale, the seeker finds
himself in the basement, in the vault

of an ice fort, somewhere in a remote
valley— In the stillness of a room,

a fire burns: old furniture, parts
of other buildings. Dust motes

make hundreds of shadows but only one
vibrates to the sound of his waking

heart. When he finds his voice, the eaves
drop their long-chiseled burdens. The world

is etched with a flurry of wings, the call
of crows; moaning, laughing, weeping.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Letter to Providence

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 16 of 92 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2011

 

Dear hidden estate of which surely I
am queen, what is your weight in stone,
in paper, in gold? I hold your promises
carefully in one hand while with the other
I wield a rusty machete to clear a trail
through underbrush, through screens
of twigs and bramble, turning logs and small
boulders aside. You’ve always been a few
nimble steps ahead— sometimes disappearing,
then beckoning with a quick flick of the wrist,
a hand-lettered sign spelling Home.
And who would not hunger for such a vision:
an acre, a hollow, a nest no matter how
small, no matter it weighs as much
as the bird that built it… Be legible
now for me, convey such simple trust:
that willingness to indemnify my
years of hard wandering, at last.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Glint

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 17 of 92 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2011

 

What is a little thing like time? Raptor,
captor, still you distress me with your
catalogue of titles: black-mantled, white-
bellied, red-thighed, chestnut-flanked,
collared, sharp-shinned harrier. The edges
of days spread across the land, their span
forming the shadow of a cross. With each
of your appearances, I startle and don’t
completely recover. Deep in the grass, see
where I sift, searching for my own lost names.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

The Beloved Asks

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 18 of 92 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2011

 

How do I know you
have returned?

The ruffs that soften
around the necks of daffodils.

The arrogant bees
lording it over the trellis.

Bursts of pollen, tell-tale marks
like gunpowder on sleeves of pavement.

In the dark I hear the frogs again,
whetting their voices on cold creek stones.

Most of all that tendril of clear
uncertainty: knowing what could be lost.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Letter to Longing

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 19 of 92 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2011

 

Eat something, you say to your child.
Dry your tears. And if in the legend the birds
flew over without stopping, building a bridge
out of air to yoke one here to another there?
For years, all that humming overhead.
Every morning, the hard bread you dip
into the coffee and put in your mouth.
You say, It can’t be long now. The firefly
nourishes itself with so very little light.
What does it pine for, all night in the woods?

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Twenty Questions

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 21 of 92 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2011

 

Has the darkness lifted?
Is the round bud of the maple not filled with longing?

How close can a room hold two, not speaking or touching?
Does every thought glint, is every fire stolen?

Is everything in the world immersed in the petroleum of desire?
Have the clocks been wound, has the coffeemaker been unplugged?

Has the crying from behind the keyhole subsided?
Do you see where the fabric holds the shape of shoulders?

Do you feel how the music rinses us clear?
Has the rain fed you with riddles?

Have I not been permeable to everything that has come?
Would you tell me where to lay this burden down?

Do you love the sweetness that precedes decay?
Do you love the light behind every green blade?

Do you love me homely?
Do you take me plain?

Have I not met you at every detour?
Can you tell me what it is that brings you back?

Each time, have we bent our heads to drink the water?
Would you lie here with me beneath this ceiling of stars?

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.