Thursday, February 23, 2012

winter grass


Then, later in the afternoon, after crossing the white fields,
we step together over a berm of snow beside the common road
where wind gleams in the sinuosities of tall winter grass.
Daylight clings close to the bone, here,
and sweetens the marrow of the lengthening afternoon
even as shadows bulk out from the boles of pines.
The tufts of sinewy, thin blades rub and delay the shine,
exactly as the fibrous sheaf of the body defers the spirit’s passage
back to the earth, exactly so, to slow its arrival --
or, if there is no spirit, to clutch fire in the tangled atoms
for a moment longer, before they slack apart and fall again
through the void. Already we lean toward evening.
We touch the rustling stems as roughly as the wind
and hurry home to uncover warm skin, to offer, here, always here --
here, where I kneel before the tender gate of my lover’s womb.


  1. in the photo they seem so still, impossibly still, but even before reading the poem, i knew they were rustling. and i could only imagine them swaying in the wind...

    such a beautiful elegy of the coming-home, endless journey whose expression, in you, can only become a prayer-poem.

    how i love these:

    Daylight clings close to the bone, here,
    and sweetens the marrow of the lengthening afternoon
    even as shadows bulk out from the boles of pines.

  2. Roxana: yes, endless, this journey ... always coming home, and never at home, except now and then, briefly, for a moment of touch ....

  3. the key lies in your language here, between the thinning and the bulking, the wind moving the almost (not)existing sinewy thin blades, all undulating between the sinuosities and the bone, or the bole. the span between these two states are married at the elusive point of existence in the marrow, or at the threshold of the tender gate of my lover’s womb. only here is there some denser substance, some unequivocal meat, some remarkable state of being before the ebb and flow takes hold once again and we aren't sure exactly what is real.

    i have read this poem dozens of times. today i am able to see into your language (perhaps because i am ill and therefore have to slow down?) and recognize the three states, light, body and being. i am rather overtaken by what you've managed here. and then to know, to KNOW, or to at least believe that we stepped over the berm together...

    your photograph causes me to want to weep and feel joy in the same moment. it is (perhaps) my favorite of your photographs but i say this guardedly for what you have been shooting, how you have been shooting, (the raven! oh, that day at the bridge!) you are shattering me.


  4. I love the density and sensuality of the language here, each line is thick with rich phrasing: "berm of snow", "sinuosities of tall winter grass", "close to the bone", "sweetens the marrow", "boles of pines" - all from the first six lines alone! I like how the poem begins, as though the reader is suddenly privy to what follows, a kind of overhearing. And I especially like "uncover the warm skin", although it's cold, it never permeates.

  5. erin: we stepped over the berm together :-) know that ... always know that ...

    i am overwhelmed by the sensitive attention you bring to the reading of this poem ... yes, the nexus where these things come together is where i feel something real ... (i love your phrase "unequivocal meat" :-) ... that you see this with such clarity, that you share it -- i am beyond proper words, i can only respond with love ...

  6. Marion: thank you for such attention to language -- that is really where i tend to feel things -- i am almost incapable of seeing the overall shape of a poem, but i am lost in these little particles of language that seem to assemble themselves, without much will from me ...

    there is always warmth under the cold, the live and warm skin waiting beneath the snowy clothes ...