The creek’s waters flow so quickly that I make little headway in my attempt to cross. A water moccasin slips by, and my left boot takes on water. This is not real, I say. We’ve had no rain and I would not be so foolish as to do this. Asleep? Perhaps, but I’ve passed the halfway point and have no choice but to move forward. I slip and nearly pitch headfirst into the dark current. Lightning stitches the sky.
The glass remains unchanged but what I see through it differs moment by moment. This door is truly of a port in air; I observe these shifting worlds, their translucent seconds ever ticking. Nothing rests – the Texas mountain laurel’s blossoms fade and flutter to the ground while the wind weaves intricate patterns through its branches. Rogue onion sprouts scatter throughout this small section of yard, and a squirrel scampers along the cedar pickets. Light slants through a hole in the clouds. A hummingbird buzzes by. Even the earth moves, and five minutes ago rain tapped out an inconsistent tune on my metal roof. I lift the shakuhachi to my lips, and exhaling, enter the day.
three dogs yapping
announce spring’s arrival
oh, sweet music!
Life here is good, but sometimes scary. My community has been rocked by four explosions, four bombs meant to maim and kill. Sunday’s occurred just a few miles from my home of 34 years, and it seems that the package that exploded overnight some sixty miles south of Austin at the FedEx facility in Schertz (coincidentally just a few miles from my sister’s house), was sent from the nearby FedEx store that I frequent. All this is to say that no matter how we try, we ultimately control little. Each day, each step, could be our last. Thus I pledge to celebrate today’s breath, to speak kind words and do no harm. To listen, to taste, to see. To feel, to thank.
That incessant buzz around the mountain laurel hummingbirds are back!
What toll, dripping from his fingers? How does he sleep? Which truth
honored? The senator takes millions and offers prayers in lieu of action,
betraying the children, appeasing his benefactor. Seventeen chairs emptied
on this day, alone. He says nothing can be done, that laws are ineffective,
the shooting was “inexplicable.” What do his thoughts weigh? What griefs
will they bear? Can they reverse a bullet’s track or bring laughter back
to a family’s shattered life? Would any god answer this man’s prayers?
He thought much of these disembodied hands, pictured them moving to the light of the burnished lantern, weaving patterns intricate as those in the most delicate hummingbird nest, textures and shades of light with traces of webs and soft fibers of unknown origin, making knots of shadows and their companions.
It was not that they were so very much like his; they were hands of another sort, hands that touched nothing held by another, hands that knew no lips or wooden hearts or curves in a quiet moment, hands that knew only themselves in the community of unnatural hands.
waking to the rain
he hears a far-off whistle
oh, the neighbor’s tea!
He needed to shape things, make them his. Stones in the garden, carved wooden bookstands, the absence of light in certain corners of the house, all captured this need. His was not so much a desire for control as a means of learning, of observing and participating in processes not ordinarily viewed as such. To watch shadows develop in the presence of trees and vine-covered walls, flowering for brief moments, their entire lives encompassed in seconds: he wanted to hold and be held, to breathe in what the air brought him and return what he could. To live.
what greeting is this?
bugs tapping at my window
tell me winter’s gone
In the evening he often sat in a room lit only by a candle in an old iron lantern. He preferred candlelight for it did not obliterate darkness as did the electric lamps, but diminished it, allowing a room new life. Each crevice in the book shelves became a new world, each doorway an entrance to something beyond one’s perceptions of black and white, the difference of moon and sun. Corners lost their edges. Shadows flowered with every movement of the candle’s flame, became hands without bodies, fingers tapping time to an unheard music.
no gods in this room
singing the blues
darkness lights the way
This is my first attempt at a haibun. Please forgive my transgressions.
I dream of poetry in all its forms, rising and flowing and subsiding without end, much like ice shrugging within itself. Last winter a hard freeze split a valve on the downstream side of the cistern. Had it cracked even a few inches up-line there would have been no need to replace the valve.
captive rain recalls
its journey towards the ground
the garden returns
The well terminates at 280 feet. The water is hard, but cool, and tastes of dark limestone and ancient rains.
Even the gnarled live oaks have dropped their leaves. Grass crunches underfoot and smells like dead insects and dried herbs. Mosquitoes have vanished. Only the prickly pears thrive. Their flowers are bright yellow and bloom a few days each year.
sauteed with garlic
nopalitos on my plate
their thorns, forgiven
I wipe sweat from my forehead with the back of the glove, and wonder how many ounces of fluid have passed through my body this year, how the rain navigates from clouds through layers of soil and stone, only to return, how a cold beer might feel sliding down my throat.
stoking the fire
winter rain whispers to me