How can one not be completely beguiled by the art of Seamus Heaney:
Lovers on Aran
The timeless waves, bright, sifting, broken glass,
Came dazzling around, into the rocks,
Came glinting, sifting from the Americas
To posess Aran. Or did Aran rush
to throw wide arms of rock around a tide
That yielded with an ebb, with a soft crash?
Did sea define the land or land the sea?
Each drew new meaning from the waves’ collision.
Sea broke on land to full identity.
A soup tureen is an arabic form of food poetry ※ Knickerbockers are boxer shorts for horses ※ Catacombs are often found in the personal care aisle next to caterpillars ※ Hair plugs are advertisements you can’t get rid of ※ Platypus is the sound a cat makes when it didn’t rotate fast enough after falling off the roof ※ Druthers are what you’d rather have than dreese ※ If hope is the thing with feathers, doubt is the house cat ※ To carom off something sounds better than bouncing off it ※ You take the cake — if its older than three days ※ General Patton wore knickerbockers when no one was looking ※ If I could do it all over again I would keep the soap dispenser a little cleaner ※ A room on Bleeker street would make anyone write a song about it ※ Winter seems to be expecting something different from us this year ※ Happenstance is a place where circumstance gets a bus transfer and then loses it ※ A credible alibi is when you get caught in a hotel bed with a colleague from work when you were supposed to be helping them rob the safe in the front office ※
Driving over the Blue mountains of eastern Oregon in winter. The highway has a foot of powder snow over it and all I can see of earth and sky is two faint red tail lights of the car in front of me. We all slow to ten, then five miles an hour and then finally we stop. Like a nose to tail pony ride that has lost its way home.
We get out of our cars and trucks and stand in the middle of the highway and talk about what to do as the snow deepens and night falls around us. We decide we will each drive ten miles an hour and keep the tail lights in front visible, with no sudden braking.
Minutes crawl by like hours, hours like days. Often the windshield is completely blanketed but I know I can’t stop so I estimate direction and keep going.
Something happens out there. We are no longer of this earth but become suspended above it in an intimate living room of white felt and urgent love. The trucker behind me knows my thoughts as well as I do. My two year old son sleeps in the back seat unaware.
Somehow, this time, after what seems like an eternity, the circus finds the park. Baker City appears from nowhere and the makeshift survival convoy converges on the truck stop diner for pie, happy relief and smiles. We knew it would be ok, really.
I write this this morning as I read of a fifty car pile up last night on that same stretch of road under similar conditions. People life-flighted to Portland and Boise, though no one killed, thank God.
Here’s to hoping — for all of us everywhere — that the circus continues to find the park.
A warm kitchen full of people talking,
faces softly out of focus,
children playing under tables.
Streamers of kelp drift through the scene.
Bits of orange pollen blow on the night wind.
A chimpanzee sits above on a knoll with a stick.
Angling for ants, he drops the stick into the kitchen.
A woman in the living room
is carrying her mother on her back.
She is the only one who can see her.
Another woman is eating a bowl of chain stew.
A third century saint looks in through a corner window.
A teapot, big as a car, is leaving by the side door on cat feet.
The small buffalo herd’s silence
We’re living on a caramel island where spider soldiers
can suddenly rise up when the music stops.
The train whistle only ruffles our sleep without really waking us.
The cottonwoods by the river, many saviors without a congregation.
The cranes flying down river will pause there and remember.
They want to stand and worship and become new trees.
Winter comes. Before dawn, I rise and make coffee.
The night winds have left a hole that thoughts go into but don’t return.
You are on the sea far away from me.
Petroglyphs of the owl mother are getting harder and harder to see.