Tuesday, November 1, 2011

first snow


somewhere in michigan, mid-day, just off the interstate
berries the birds have left deepen in their october blue
as sleet dry-whispers into the last hanging birch leaves --

trucks roar past, all hurry and wind
i want to turn and tell you that i loiter here
halfway on the long road
leaning back
the flat miles in chains between us

yesterday a river lifted the year’s first few snowflakes
i breathed the cold from your hair
you opened your eyes over my shoulder
and gasped when a raven landed soundlessly in the top of a pine

we saw the raven fly again
but now I stop here to delay further distance
to touch the berries and ask you
as if you might hear -- knowing you will hear --
is the raven still there?
does the green branch sway in this wind?
tell me and i will believe --
is the snow still falling?

i drift among the forked trunks of the birches
wishing for your small pale shoulders in my hands


  1. your soft voice, i really love your poem recordings as they make me hear the words in a totally different light, they become so tender with the rounded longer vowels typical for your pronunciation.

    and i love the way the photos, beautiful in themselves, become alive in a different way when seen "through' the poem, they are suddenly vibrant with the memory and longing for her, with her presence, as if she and the soft autumn are one...

  2. So beautiful, James, so softly beautiful.

  3. there is a tremulous surprise in this for me, more than the poem, more than the photos, more than the love, more than the longing. it resides in the reverberation of your voice itself, as though your voice is a leaf and your words shadows falling. this tremulous being floods me and almost swallows me whole. i have nothing else to say but a lifetime of talking, of walking, of sleeping, of silence.


  4. If only you could see the tears that are running
    down my face.

  5. how wonderful to hear you read! I love how you managed such depth in the first picture and the immediacy of those berries in the second.
    beautiful images in the poem, I love the third stanza, particularly -

    "yesterday a river lifted the year’s first few snowflakes
    i breathed the cold from your hair"

    really nice juxtaposition of images, a kind of chilly sensuousness which is pretty hard to capture in words :)

  6. Roxana: i am humbled by the attention with which you listen and hear ... she and the soft autumn have become one for me, yes, you heat everything ....

  7. erin: this has been a season for surprise ... and the day was in the wind like a last leaf seeking its release, and then finding it ... i have nothing else to say but a lifetime of talking, of walking, of sleeping, of silence -- what more could there be to say? everything is here!!

  8. musicwithinyou: i'm glad that you were moved :-)

  9. Marion: thank you. i like this phrase "chilly sensuousness" -- it describes a feeling that is close to me, i think -- i will remember it :-)

  10. There is revelation here, in your new (for me) voice, both on the page, and in the recording. But it's the poet-voice on the page that calls to me, in the way a new one leans into the new world of another.