Spring Has Come Early (to the footbridge over the stream above the beaver pond)

Spring has come early
to the footbridge
over the stream
above the beaver pond

and the smart money
is on the crane pair
returning to the meadow
before the equinox.

We always wish for
early spring in March
and early winter in November,
craving what we miss,

sun or snow. If only
we could take each day
as it comes, as dogs do,
as we assume the cranes do,

but who’s to say they don’t
dream of northern meadows
when they tire of their winter
homes? I imagine they long

to trace the flyways
back to their nesting grounds
and those long and lazy days,
gigging frogs and raising their colts.

(Even this poem feels incomplete,
leaves me wanting to see more,
like a blue sky reflected in the
clear and icy water of the stream.)

spring

Watching for Bald Eagles

I dreamed of finding dead birds —
the hens we lost last summer,
and our favorite rooster —
perfectly preserved in the snow
I was shoveling off the driveway.

I proceeded with caution,
more archaeologist than gravedigger,
uncertain of what lay beneath
each drifted form, probing
the outlines of the proximate future
in each measured spadeful.

Then I asked you what to do
with the newly uncovered fowl
but when I could not hear your response
I shouted, “I can’t hear you
when you turn away from me,”
and immediately felt so sorry
for raising my voice unnecessarily

that I woke up suddenly
and thought of all I had to do
with so many bodies to rebury,
so much blood and bone and feather.

I am on the road away from you,
watching for bald eagles.

Hawks in Winter

What sort of hawks are these,
brown and white, on fence posts
in central Wisconsin in January?

There is so much I don’t know.
Do you think they eat mice, or small birds?
Why don’t they overwinter in Illinois?

Or follow the Mississippi south
past Memphis, Vicksburg, the Delta,
to some bayou rich with crayfish?

What do you think they’d make of you,
North-Hawk, those birds of the South,
would they call you Cousin, Mon Ami?

Now 37 straight winters I have endured
since the one I passed in Mexico and
I don’t know if I could stand even one more.

A Murder of Crows

A murder of crows stirs
in the tree that is my heart.

Morning light warms black feathers
and then they take flight,

dark premonitions scattering
on the day’s errant winds.

Words spill like autumn leaves.
Snakes bask in the heat

of the compost pile.
Crows are ubiquitous,

they can stand the cold.
I know they’ll come home

to roost on bare limbs in a tree
gaunt as a saint in winter.

My Tribe*

The trouble is not
with the names of flowers

how to make fire
or find my way home
on a moonless night.

I dream
of the long walk
and the endless green river.

What happened to the frogs?

The sky
is bruised
above the blood-red sun.

I live among people
with three simple rules

do not kill birds
do not pee at the water-gathering place
and I can never remember the third.

 

* This poem was published in 2011 at Bolts of Silk