bird, dog, cat

it happens
from time to time, a mystery
small bird in the house

junco wild-flight hurl at glass door
falling stunned; sparrow
parked on pantry, peering
black-eyed over the molding

how it spent a night in the mixing bowl
how I caught it in the curtain, heart beating
flutter in my closed hand
how the dog whined and pointed
how the cat had grown bored long since
the gift already given

Thaw

we’re down to icy slush, footstep-shaped
margins of grass or sodden islands
sudden lakes, squished plastic bags
sidewalk-washed downstream

the dripping we heard overnight a dream-
breath of spring, sheets too warm
the same winter birds but heard
with the door cracked

how things get ugly before getting better
like a healing bruise, the heart
churns, chugs, pumps again and
in winter’s dreg-end we sweep away
the debris

This winter

is snow on ice on ice on snow
and we know this is metaphor
also, this floundering through drifts
and bleak shivering, a slip and a fall

juncos flit and chickadees
never give up their song, the warning note
for all these branches bent under
their own frozen weight, summer’s broken stems
brittle and glazed

how far down do we hold our love’s roots, the seeds
and is this the winter
that kills them

clearing the field

Hafiz says I must clear the rocks
if I am to have any good of this field
so I begin—to be ready
for some future sun-flushed spring

rocks of resentment and guilt
at feeling resentment and some pebbles
words to fling about because—
I think you should understand—
a bowl full of pebbles to explain
why I feel and all of the above

(tell me if there is a place to stack them all
a monument to self-help and decluttering)

here is the rock I have been curled under, closed
and we might someday have it for a signpost
to carve the hard harvest or what should we give
to forget this bitter year?

the rock where the top is not so big yet one digs
and digs and two strong arms and intent
are not enough to heave it out
don’t say God must think it’s good for you
for what shape was the rock that left this gaping hole

and the last black rock, glittering with something I should be
doing differently

Reading Hafiz, “So You Can Plant More Wheat,” translated by Daniel Ladinsky.

on having to give up cheese

and butter, of course, though
our great society has long figured out
how to do fake butter

so now I’m left with these questions—
what about goat? how do I mourn
the loss of ice cream and every breakfast casserole

should I go to the garden walk with wine and ____ ?
I suppose there might be crackers

and how could a Texas girl with even great imagination
(I’ve hardly that) fathom these long remaining years
without a single enchilada?

and certainly, why now?
when so much of the joy has already slipped

my hermit days march forward
with stiff arms and fists

Moldy

Maybe you shouldn’t have looked in here, after so many weeks

or months? to find your friends talking about God knows and eight or nine expired poetry challenges, that feeling

like skipping church for a year, then sitting in the town chapel singing Christmas carols with strangers—

didn’t you want to cry? and didn’t you stop yourself, a disciplined no? but listen, I’m telling you

yes: find what’s worth saving, a fresh heart beneath all that must

 

A long-lined acrostic dedicated to the long-neglected crew at Yeah Write.