Everything I know about the sea and sailing I have learned from and with Marike. She does not speak in this piece, but, as in Nightwatch #1, is everywhere implied. Beneath the sound of the waves and the wind in the sails and the hum of the engine I am listening for her breath, for the sound of her stirring. I move quietly in the dark hours, so as to let her rest, every hour logging our position on paper so that should something go wrong with the power systems on the boat, we know (more or less) where we are. She does likewise as I am sleeping, sailing sailing sailing into the light. Continue reading Nightwatch #2 (on boredom)
Night or day, when at sea we are always on watch, Marike and I.
She is the skipper, the one who oversees and takes charge of the whole vessel–without her there would be neither vessel nor voyage–and I navigator and cook, but we make all of the important decisions about what to do on a passage together, including how and when to spell each other off. Continue reading Nightwatch #1 (on demons and ghosts)
A rainy morning in Ohio.
I’ve not seen my brother for many months. Yet here he is,
on the porch, plucking out a tune.
Waiting for me to wake. Continue reading Brother poem
The day spoils we say meaning
the rain will soon come.
As if it, too, were not as essential as air. Continue reading The day spoils (exercising translation)
There is a ghost of sorrow who lives in my heart.
It wakes; it keeps me awake;
it squeezes against my chest.
Sometimes it leaks from my eyes when I am driving
as if lured by a ribbon of song or Continue reading Ghost of sorrow
The house cracks with cold and I wake as if gunshot, veering from dream into thumping pressure on my eardrums. I am inside Ilya Kaminsky’s republic of the deaf watching birds lift noiselessly into the sky after an explosion. The news coming from the Ukraine, from Odessa and Kharkiv and Lviv and Kyiv is uniformly terrible. Continue reading Watching birds lift noiselessly after an explosion (Postcard with Ilya Kaminsky)
Why are you here and what do you need to live well in the world? What are your responsibilities? Who are your ancestors and where are they now? What do they have to do with where you are? What will you do to be a good ancestor? Continue reading Questions for my students that I also ask myself
I let out the dog and stand in the air, inhaling lungfuls of land and sea smell. A damp breeze circles my ankles. Suddenly nearby a loon cry and then another and another. On this shore we say that means a change in the weather. Usually rain. But I also hear: company in the darkness so eloquent that at once it pierces and names your loneliness. Loonsong the stitch that knits life and death and every isolated sorrow, the sound for which I’ve forever waited at the water’s edge, neither coming nor going nor yet surely staying. Continue reading Nightdark loonsong heartswail
We gathered rhubarb from our neighbours’ patch and close by, in a dell, I found a broad scattering of violets, the last of the season. I plucked them and dropped them into my hat; I wanted to try to make violet flower ink. Continue reading An alchemy of violets
We walk in the rain at dusk along /a broken black road frogs chanting/in the ditches…
This poem is one of a series of shortened sonnets, in which I test what happens if I compress the sonnet into 13 rather than 14 lines. It feels as if, sometimes, hurry is what happens–the poem dashes off, like a dog into the night. Continue reading Into the thrill