From the Gazebo; The Flower Duet

From the Gazebo

Casadirene, Santa Barbara

First day of January, and the eye wants distance,
distance and depth, to look out toward the water,
to water so pale before the islands it vanishes,
to a dome-curving fragment of mackerel sky,
to a sailboat venturing forward slowly as an hour hand,
to a hawk gliding by at eye level, along the hillside.

First day of January. The eye wants . . .

But a lizard the color of the deck’s weathered boards
has paused bridging the abyss between two planks,
and an acorn woodpecker plucks an acorn from the live oak overhead
and rustles through the ribboned bark of a dead eucalyptus beside it,
and the page I’m writing on flushes with light
so the blue lines sink into the white paper.

Right before me a vine opens magenta clusters
as if winter were an illusion or these flowers
spread in the sunshine along the oak shade
were themselves hallucinations. Yet I’ve broken
a cluster from its woody stalk and hold it in my hand.

January first, and my mother is ashes.
She is ashes now, no matter where I look.

The Flower Duet

The hummingbird hesitates at the red feeder.
The profane monologue waterlogs in the head.
Nature’s gold turns regular green regular brown.
Certain ones are chosen when others are dead.
The hummingbird’s throat is blood-black away from the light.
And some will find themselves outside the fence.
Its nest is an eggcup woven of spider silk.
Seasonal birds have brought consoling moments.

A student falls thousands of feet on her airliner.
A doctor checks her and fellow passengers on the ground.
She speaks of the drop, the orchard of dangling masks,
And the eventual—eventual!—stabilizing of terror.
The hummingbird veers away from the pristine feeder.
After the singing ends, it will never end.