Friday, July 15, 2022

Something After Sjöberg

 



 

What to make of a landscape

that won’t maintain a pose for me?

 

Shattered lines, effaced shadows,

archaeology of sky-creatures

 

burrowing head-down into earth

gangrenous with watercolors

 

the artist deploys in squalls.

As if a nebula descended

 

to rebuke our wayward planet.

Accounts of Bertil Sjöberg

 

and the mania behind this scene

underscore his grasp of shards.

 

Such an honest disconnection

can’t go unremarked. Therefore

 

I respond with tinsel and scrap

to accompany and critique

 

his gaseous sharp-edged figures.

If I look over my shoulder,

 

they form, deflate, and reform

without his or anyone’s consent.

 


 

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Rosy Maple Moth

 

 

d. rubicunda

 

A creamy pastel moth adheres

to the lip of a plate glass window.

When I prod it, folded wings

flourish but refuse to flap.

Easy prey for a robin,

 

but robins are scarce this year,

climate bubbling like witches’ brew.

To photograph and catalogue

this ornament for future reference

seems crass. You think it’s dying,

 

one of those mouthless creatures

that lays its eggs and then starves.

The respectful thing is to leave it

to mull the stark utility

of its ten days of adult life.

 

All last summer as caterpillar

it fed on specific foliage.

Then a winter tightly mummified.

Then spring and a sudden mating—

then eggs, the futureless future.

 

You peer at its minute throbbing

and wonder aloud that it chose

this exposed place to meditate.

I snap a photo and withdraw,

having desecrated its little space.

 

You want to name the creature

the way Adam named all creatures

with his initial attempt at speech,

although he lacked the Latin

science prefers to apply.

 

We’ll look it up in The Moth Book,

and when we find and pronounce

the proper words we can relax,

having done our human duty

for it if not for ourselves.

 

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Falling at the Waterfall

 


 

At the foot of the waterfall,

I slip on the rocks and topple

backwards into private dark.

 

The water mutters sorry, sorry,

but I've stumbled over dry stone

because of age and clumsiness.

 

In a whirl of day-night sky

rich with unkempt promises,

I’m outside myself looking in.

 

The spring forest mumbles

its half-formed melodies,

mocking the absent songbirds.

 

Voices of a school group hiking

up a nearby peak retort

to the wind-speak with their shrills.

 

I feel malformed lying here

with bruises flowering and bones

intact but freshly resentful.

 

Upright again, I’m a challenge

to myself. I climb the ledge

to the fork in the trail and choose.

 

I’m too old to hike alone,

but no one’s ever quite alone

on these trails in sprightly weather.

 

The murmur of the waterfall fades

and one authentic thrush critiques

my concern for mutual extinction.

 

My little fear subsides. Only

a couple of rotten spots to prove

I’m still human enough to hurt.