The First of August

I went walking in the morning with the trees awaking slow
Where the grass was spent like calloused hands from holding summer’s hours,
Where the ochre beams uneven streamed to dapple ground below
Where the berries born of blossoms wove into their fragrant towers.

I went walking in the morning just beside the shallow creek
Where the shadows filled the waters clear with cool untouched by day,
Where the stones in slumber undisturbed heard not the swallows speak,
Where the yawn of August blinking new assured their singing stay

I went walking in the morning with my eyes still full of sleep
Where I shed the fevered dreams I’d kept like branches shed their leaf
And I hardly thinking stepped cross roots with tangles sunken deep
Where the dew unburnt on cloverbuds bathed footsteps in relief.

Hearts That Beat Wildly Without Knowing How

I have heard God speak as many ways
as I have lived, as many days,
as I have known.

When as a child he called my name
I tore outside without coat or shame
and he kissed my face as I sang along
to the foreign words of his speechless song
in the language of wind and of thunder and hope
and of hearts that beat wildly without knowing how.
He invented the words then he ripped them out
of his lungs like so many pages of books
to press them into where I stood;
I saw him prowl the clouds like an uncaged thing
whose only reason and cause to sing
was for the beauty of all he saw.
He would tear the clouds to show me how
a fire can break the blackest dark
and creation is lit with a sweeping spark
as if he longed to make me found,
and stand beside me on the ground.
Still unknown language roared around
and fire faded, but light imprinted
treetops and mountains in the back of my skull
and I understood what they meant.

Now growing up I curl inside
while he orchestrates the storms outside
listening with English in my ears,
the skies still sing but it’s hard to hear
the promise of him drawing near
and so instead my God finds in me
the languages of every day—
of fog and of peace and ordinary ways;
he’s softest patter on solid eaves,
murmuring his love to me,
how the heart can keep a steady pace;
in the quiet weekday puddle grey,
he soaks my feet, he washes away
the masking paint off from my face—
And the lady in her corner of the cafe
talks to herself
or to him
I don’t know
and he taps my shoulder and asks me why
I doubt?
As he’s always fallen into my arms,
thrown himself onto the ground,
where he’s planting life and he’s growing love,
as the sky is giving itself up.

White Invisibles

Winter is whispering out of my head
the melody you sang to me in sleep,
like fingers tracing over me,
I dreamt you sculpted me,
believe me:
for a fraction of that broken moment
you made me an entity
outside of myself.

Woven in words, I shed that skin,
without it would I be
your foreign fantasy
waiting in a night of revelation,
a secret place in the dark,
Where we melted with starlight
or streetlights—
oh how it all shone just the same
in the rain.

Am I just fluid ink on pages then,
a phantom shape on the radar,
emotive movement,
but just outside your line of sight?

I shed that skin and feel again
the barefoot morning wandering
into someone’s mother’s kitchen
Where they’re making me breakfast and the coffee’s on.

Snow furies past the windows,
cascades from heavy evergreens,
floats midair in drifts of breeze unmoving,
and covers your words where they rest in my head.
Frozen figures, ceasing to become, white invisibles:
what you would have made of me.

Conversation with a stranger

The meeting of our eyes was the weight of letters packaged and tied
flat in my palm, as I received them,
and every greeting was untying the strings that bound them.
You laughed and it was the sound of my finger hooked under the envelope’s mouth
and tearing—the smooth slip of opening—
and unfolding.
I agreed with the dreams you couldn’t keep off your tongue
and steadily we smoothed out
the pages of our separate hearts
and read them.

One weekend in Ireland

Wind waving grass rolling long green seas
Narrow country road locked in tangled top trees
Ivy at your feet, red gates at your heel
Dream headed daughter let your twirly feet wander
Through unkind winds to usher you in
A farmhouse kitchen is bustling warm.

Snow Man

Late morning one December day he sat
Amid the flakes that fell like peace, his eyes
Unseeing pain, unknowing age, were lost
In dancing with the northern wind and sky,
Those flurried footfalls of the failing year.
His garden ice, his breath a cloud– to know
What kept his simple skin and bones so still
With nothing but a coat and cap to keep
The heartbeat in, a crackling hearth log safe
From snow. The mountains thunder over me
In avalanche of time and cold, inflate
My lungs with ice, compress the poetry
From out my bones, to leak into the earth
Unheard. Bound in tidings Winter winds,
I stand inside and freeze. I contemplate
The man of snow, so steadfast, through the glass
And gazing outward thus upon him, find
The snowfall somehow warms me.