This is a poem I wrote several years ago but it just surfaced again unexpectedly, so I thought I would share. In the northernmost territories, where bald eagles circle their prey Smaller birds are stalked in the open sky by men with pellets of clay Grey wolves run in morning packs across the deep and pristine snow Searching for food in rocky crevices where freshwater used to flow Where fish used to swim, darting silver beneath the springs Birds swept through the clouds with two strong and unclipped wings Myriad stars hung like diamonds in the still and glassy night
The little one has mucus gathered at her nose this evening and she lays in my arms unpurring and still, onyx eyes open. Her tiny animal heart beats at a speed she surely cannot take for too long. My fingers touch it, fluttering wildly in the cage of her ribs, beneath her front limbs when I lift her up to feel the sun. The skin of her ears is paper thin, red and veined, translucent and warm. He, an old man in a crumpled suit, bones only recently filtered into the earth, bends to sing from his gut, while
Our wild sea is white in your absence though dogs leap and roll on the shingle, knowing nothing of our grief. Of course, you are not really absent, and the leaves, now withered and cracked, will grow again, emerald in the spring. These songs we sing with tears in our throats will rise beyond this simple roof and be carried upon the clouds to your quiet, eternal heart. Lovers, daughters, friends and mothers shall never truly part. Your kindness and grace, bestowed throughout the years, has given comfort and inspiration to us all. Of all the words you
There are morning crows on the splintered fences, yakking and pushing each other around. The first crunches of ice on the ground, these cheap boots that let the water in. I want this all to be over. I want it only to begin. I long to reach in to the gut and the lungs and the mess of it. Hold it still, keep it all exactly as it is. There is a Christmas tree in the bedroom now, the kind that makes slow patterns on the wall. Crackling war songs and changing colours as she sleeps. I can still hear
The mountains have long stood and guarded the plains, while a thousand summer evenings have sighed and slept. They have seen children created and homesteads blown away by western winds that through the valleys have swept. They judge not but they keep their faces to the light and in the evening they tenderly cradle the stars. Young cattle grow restless in the heat of the night and flushed couples tumble out of crowded bars. I wonder about the secrets of yours that they hold as you lay down amid the debris of another day’s labour.
Here in the clamorous night my fingers upon your mouth the summer birds seek shores untouched by rain, silver and silent in their flight. And I can think of no greater joy beneath these wild oyster stars than to fall asleep in the cold grass and be licked awake by daylight.
It’s burning and it’s brittle, this strange and little thing of ours; Sometimes I see the wings of the sun, then the gaping mouths of the stars, And can I help it, if I can’t stop dreaming of you? I wish you would lay down beside me, in the weightless cradle of the night, and speak only to accent the silence that shivers between wrong and right, But the moment you arrive, you have long begun to depart; The earth hides his face while the moon bares her heart. I don’t want to hurt you. I never mean to cause
In the softest shades of the night He spoke to me, Of chasing lions from the mountains To the level of the sea, Of curious, frozen fingers Upon aged sycamore trees, Of the feelings he has, But cannot give freely. It has long seemed a wonder to me, How words sputter forth Clouded mysteries, How these fragments of passion Pierce our vitality, Syllables shelled and cracked By the mouths of gluttony. It does little good to wish, I know, as the river runs to the sea In its own good time; but for me, Darkness swims beneath This lush valley
O sun despairing Bound to serve Soften the soil Our last preserve Victory grows not From bloodied dirt But the bones of children Are tipped into the earth Shall they return now To their sleeping valleys To their winter skies And mountains untamed? We tell their stories Neglect their names And farm the fields In which they were slain Scottish songs of divine birth Dark December, Christmas mirth We pursue fleeting comforts To contain nameless hurt Silence the screams Of soldiers buried In the earth The ground beneath us Rises to meet the sky Faceless god God on high Stillness