filling the book

with what I don’t know about
trees, their loves and losses
intimacies with beetle and worm
higher math. how to curtsey in

and bow out, gracefully
to say no and graciously
yes, these distances between
and how to bridge them. why

a lover fades before your eyes
or changes, or you change. how
to get up every day, new
in the eyes of dog or child

to prevent disappointment.
why words come thick
(fast in your youth, in dreams)
then vanish like the bees

though all the scented flowers
lead like a jeweled trail
to or from your heart—
and all the silent waiting

on this falling edge

tell your autumn self, this fountained day
of wordy unmusical frustration is nothing
to regret. ask your winter self, who will make
work of the past? what is your spring self
but an ideal to grope for, in sympathy
with the young? you let those hours go.
(see the spiders already moving in, rose-hips,
crickets?) no need to reinvent or be clever
in your acts of love. your voice—broken,
burning, sleep-rough, shrill—will be here,
a sun-pledge.

Borderline

sunset gold, low-slant
fires distant spark
starting seaside, spreading
beacon point to point to point—
behind my eyes

why did I glory in tales
of blood, fighting
remembered sword-grip
and how it shamed loving touch
of earth lifted, sifted
and firmed again

no more. I close the border of that land
with this drawing in, hurrying on
of cloak, hood, fences, gates
tamping down the pulse, the heart-fire
watching the thread of smoke lift
swirl, vanish

Guesswork

twenty-five years since I wrote what I know
about your ear, and the scar by your eyebrow—
what has changed now? not predicting what you’ll say
or the plaid and check shirts in shades of blue; not
my assuming the promise of your arms but

I hardly know myself in a photo ten years old
nor remember the clothes, shoes, hair—
what I might have said there to tide another day
and another, these eroding surfaces
we call trust, comfort, habit, love

what endures? and if the core remains
unknowable? yet as worth writing about
as when we were new to ourselves, to each other

Cold like the moon

this skimmed-milk faith
glowing a bit, a movie-god’s halo
(but blue-white, LED, not incandescent)
trembling near nightfall
under sudden river-ice

*

and the reason we want a plot
a cheer-heart resolution
to this hapless wandering
(eat, sleep, cry)—who is writing
your story with its cast of millions
cross-referenced, pronunciation guide
at the end?

*

when we stood, this close
to touching a beauty hauled round
up-horizon, the glow you would know
for all its pits and crags
until you woke again
and lost it