Fallings from Us; For You; Now, My Love

Fallings from Us

The winds come to me from the fields of sleep.

I run for miles on a worn path
through stubble fields or woods
where leaves are losing connections,
frost has seized the mold and rot
and chipmunk dives into fading light.

In this landscape crows peer askance
at ground uncertain they have ever seen it;
a minor wedge of geese call to each other
as if they are pursued. By what?
Time, time, they might say, always time
that harries them season by season back
and forth until they are lost in a blizzard
of unremembered past, huge drag
of future’s undertow, the vanishings.

Through seasonal odors deep as childhood,
silence erases all present thought,
and I grope in a fog more blind than nostalgia,
fearing I have no self to call my own,
am only wind that flings itself
forward, gusting to where I am.
For You

for Hayden Carruth (1921-2008)

Now you have gone, old father, leaving me
to struggle for understanding on my own.
Will the poems suffice? This fall the apples
will not give up despite naked branches.
Leaves stripped by winds sharpened
in the north drift into piles that wait
to rot under ice and snow. Stubborn apples
cling, useless for eating, frozen to the core,
and even in summer afflicted with worms
and scabs—fruit not even good for pies.

Any design they present must be for the eye—
perfect circles on bending branches, red
in torn light, witness to nothing understood,
some mystery that must depend on beauty.
I tell you this as if it were a question.
Now, My Love
Under my deepening years, faults
of memory can shift. Slow waves
surge forward. Already I am
remembering sitting here, and sun
shines so far ahead against the wall
it ricochets to pool and calm.

The act that is waiting as I rise gently
to ease the cat on my lap to the floor
in light comes to me with opaque pain
of a moment lost although I am
only now performing it.

Perhaps when time does not stretch
forward into a child’s endless future
but senses an end, it compresses
into waves of light shortened by speed
of their forward rush—not distortion
but a new truth condensing,
time becoming so swift it exists
only in its repeating past, this moment.

To hold what I can I name the present:
polished floorboards, book leaning
across a gap, shadow of a bird
in flight, my hand reaching to touch
your face, your voice about to speak.