(First published by Red River Review)
I read you first for sound,
For basalt cliffs dripping in the rain,
For lines like seasoned chunks of oak crackling
In winter’s wood stove,
For glaciers scouring down to stone
And pecker-fretted apple trees
Dropping Gravensteins with a thump
That ring your poems round.
I read you a second time for fruit,
For tragedy fermented with time and wonder.
Drawn from spider webs and rime ice
And the breath of horses and the shoes of children.
Your poems are like golden muscat grapes
Bursting with tangy juice and bitter seeds to ponder.
I read you a final time for breath.
When my own is made halting by this splintered season
And I am lost enough to pull my own ladder road in behind me.
You breathed deeply of life and drank from its deepest sorrows.
You remind me there is oxygen enough
On life’s widest sunlit prairies and in its darkest crevices.
An ox makes a place to sleep in the straw.
Winter stretches its ice blanket over the barn.
A killer whale pulls one end northward towards Kigiktaq.
Morning, before sunrise, gulls where there were only blue sticks.
The sea makes a heaving shudder, lifting a rogue wave to look around.
The river ebbs, exposing the bones of an old hunter. Observant. Revenant.
A few stones shine like old moons.
Space and Time. The words were invented before we knew what they really meant. In fact, space and time are joined like a two headed calf.
Space time? It is not a term invented by a poet. ( Why no poets in space?) We need another term to capture this elephant with the neck of giraffe and the laugh of a hyena.
The realm of light speed is where nature hikes up her skirts and says go ahead, take a look but you still won’t believe it. Elastic clocks slow down, drooping like Dali’s clocks under the burden of trying to catch the tiger. Thought, heart beats, a child’s first words, everything as in a viscous fluid. The stranger you eventually marry takes much longer to share her secrets.
Racing up the hill towards the speed of light, light itself refuses to slow down! It keeps arriving at the same damn speed! Nature throws up her hands and says, ok fine you win and slows the clocks to balance the celestial books. So nothing seems different as you congeal in place like the happy, ever young fossil you are, tucked away in your lithic layer of drip, drip dripping light time. This is the kind of bedrock-deep weirdness that makes poets and anyone with a sense of humor happy to be alive.