Spring 2017, Loch Lomond I am suspended in a perfect day. Why would I want to look back to the long last season while the oaks unfold hour by hour with new growth? Sacs of pollen dangle from their branches like a thousand amber earrings. Outside my window, the land rolls to the distant hills, dividing my valley from the greater valley. But new leaves are obscuring the view, and the seahorse cloud has vanished. Why would I want to evoke a cold memory when emerald grass is a month away from turning dry and brittle? Snakes are being born, and I am burning close to the bone. Winter is behind me. What could be more ideal than gazing at the last glimpse of a distant mountain ridge, disappearing until the leaves fall once again? Venom and wildflowers marry on my acre. New pale clouds are fringed like a horse’s mane. Beauty and pain hold hands with each season’s passing and as a new one is being born.
Praise the Divine Pulled from Earth Praise the Divine pulled from Earth, her roots lifted from the delta of cobblestones, From unruly beds of rosemary and lavender, in the soil between the stone steps. Praise the thistles, the foxtails and nettles, the thorns, and tall weeds That riot on every hill like the stars that will never be counted or contained. Praise the Divine in the murmuring heard through the walls of this room, The thousands of bats waking on the other side of joists and plaster. Praise the writhing mass which have slumbered and given birth During the black winter as they pour into the gasp of a hungry twilight in spring. Praise the Divine in the under-things, curled albino bodies teaming beneath rocks, In mildew and fungus, the stink of fertilizer, in the slime of old lettuce. Praise the pond scum, the mud’s muck, the dirt jammed beneath our fingernails, In the rejected detritus of our dreams where the Divine break us open. Praise the Divine for feeding the living by disintegration and decay, For her wisdom of wasting nothing, her wild lust wrapped as a gift In the expanse of breath and death. Praise all her ruthless creation, In the abandonment, in the burgeoning flesh of nature.
Leaving Aetna Springs A hundred years have gone by. I don’t pretend to hear the voices of past guests, or see them dress for dinner in Victorian elegance. I’m simply here on a summer day while the grass sucks in the heat and the cottages slump to soil. All morning we climb sagging steps, into rooms where once people slept. Acacia, Gassaway, the Winship House, the Hartson place. Wallpaper and plaster peeling, odor of decay and dust. Two cabins have given up. Their roofs caved in, berry vines surrounding them. We discover a creek cascading over rocks, framed by flowering vetch and shadows, smell sulfur fumes, and come upon a jade green pool, its water lukewarm and murky. All morning woodpeckers have followed us, tossing staccato signatures in the air. Now a single white tail flickers on a bare snag of oak. Orange butterflies skirt the star thistles as we sit beneath the shade the veranda casts. Long ago this lawn was filled with cartwheeling children, their mothers mummering rumors, men clearing their throats. But now the sun scrapes the top of the sky, and we are alone. Silence has settled upon the yellow grass. We pull stickers from our socks, are thirsty, ready to go home, to leave Aetna Springs through the archway of stone.