Some Days

Some days I don’t notice the nuthatch
climbing the cinnamon scales of a pine tree,
or the honeybee paused
on the edge of the birdbath, drinking.
Some days I see only the skim
of a hamburger wrapper floating in the bayou,
a chain link fence studded with plastic bags,
a still gray form in the middle of the road,
justifying despair.
I lose some days entirely,
as if this world can do without me,
as if the way back is not just a few feet away, where a lime green katydid the size of a staple is waiting for my astonishment.

What Thrills Me About The Deep Red South

Surging dolphins.

Ospreys carrying dinner.

Fried shrimp picnics on the banks of a bayou.

Box turtles crossing the yard.

Tree frogs on the window pane.

Corn snakes in the squash.

The size of grasshoppers.

How tall my basil grows.

The end of summer.

And the Make America Green Again 

bumper sticker I saw yesterday 

on a car whose driver I’d pay to meet.

the love that stays

I’ve been in love three times. How about you?

I’m not referring to unanswered adoration. I mean the reciprocal version, where you plunge hand in hand, helplessly. Three times seems like a generous allotment for such a chance event. I am grateful.

When asked this question, most folks have a clear number in mind: If you’ve been in love, you know it. But how, precisely? The duration varies widely and the symptoms are many: Love is a creative process, made new each time. So how do we know, unmistakably, that we have fallen in love?

For many it’s a period of immunity. Bad news bounces off them and nothing provokes concern. They live in a state of blissful suspension, far above the quotidian world. For others the earth becomes surreal. Even the lowliest objects—a broken cup, a piece of newspaper caught in a fence—take on a certain beauty and rightness. Some liken the experience to a drug they can’t get enough of. The more they consume, the more they need, and time spent apart from the loved one is agony. An ache, some folks call it, a glorious and nearly unbearable ache. “You lose control,” a friend told me, “but you’re okay with it.”

Oh those hallowed hours spent gazing at one another, faces inches apart, the sheer delight in discovering a new freckle or gesture. Time, surrendering, slides out the back door. While the rest of world continues somewhere else, lovers are locked away, immersed in a slow tease of mutual discovery. They will not be available to their friends and family, and for this they must be forgiven.

Nothing this extreme can last. The lives we abandoned want us back, and invariably we are reclaimed. In the presence of our beloved, we are not quite as careful with our words or fastidious in our manners; we floss in plain view, burp without apology, and inch by inch our perfect images fade from view. At first, the signs are subtle—a withering look, an eddy of annoyance, a gust of exasperation. Finally we can’t hold out any longer—the world elbows in and hands us a load of laundry. We can’t believe it, we won’t believe it, but there it is. Honeymoon’s over.

Plenty of couples do not recover from this transition; I am interested in those who do. I want to understand, to name, the kind of love that is left.

It has work to do, this leftover love. I see it operating in the background, like virus protection on a computer. I see it forming its own bulwarks.

This is a no-nonsense kind of love. Left unattended, it nurtures itself. Roomy and forgiving, this love allows us no end of mistakes. While our backs are turned, it makes us worthy, and as many times as we need, we are reminded that it’s still there. What luck to find this love that doesn’t go away. We may miss our passionate beginnings, but we trade them for something far more fierce.

To My Aging Cat

Her eyes are clouding with age,
and when she peers at my face,
I see confusion in hers:
How do I appear to her now?

All I can do is lean forward
and kiss that small patch of white
just above and between her eyes,
the star she was given by a god
who foretold this moment.
She bows her head slightly,
allowing my reverence,
knowing her worth
all at once.

“Last Words” in Months To Years

Many thanks to Renata Louwers, founder and editor of Months To Years, a publication dedicated to opening the conversation around death in an effort to overcome our fears and widen our understanding. My essay “Last Words” appears in the new summer issue, page 46. Please enable your flash player to read this beautiful collection.

 

Drones

IMG-1727

When it comes to rescue—
delivering supplies,
mapping disasters,
finding ways in or out—
who would argue
the value of drones?

But what of the beasts
who survive on mystery,
whose only defense
is distance?

Like the snow leopard
snaking down a mountain,
his supple spotted back
captured by the drone above,
foretelling his destination,
betraying his habits and stealth.

I wonder if he hears
this camera he cannot elude,
and if knowing he’s been found
will change him, the way a horse,
once broken, loses a part of himself,
and alters the world.

 

Purifying Wind

PW Wind cover Mock up

I wish to thank D. Ellis Phelps, editor of the new anthology Purifying Wind, “an anthology of poetry to honor the vulture, many species of which are declining or in danger. Book represents the work of forty-three poets from six countries, many of whom are prize winning and Pushcart nominees. Poems enter the realm of many subjects including wonder, desire, love, aging, memoir, death and birth, and the natural world, to name a few. ”

I am delighted to have my poem “The Natural Order” included in this inspiring collection. Here is a video of me reading the poem. You may watch others authors reading their work on the Purifying Wind page on Amazon.