Tuesday, April 23, 2013

April 11

Rainy night. Walls of forest and field slide past the headlights. I drive in and out of sudden pockets of peeper song. The neighbor has cut and burned his hedgerow. A mound of ashes shimmers and winks a hundred golden eyes in the darkness.

Salamander eggs
in the frog pond, but alas—
no mates to man her.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

April 7

Spring has returned (again). The fields are bare, the sun warm, the wind feeling its oats. Beneath the crackling of tree branches, the hills and shelves and creeks are visible for a while. The hayfields lie simple and brown and stubbly.

Beagle in sunshine,
sitting beside a deer corpse—
perfect happiness.

March 28

Phantom flock honking overhead—the voices of many, but no geese in sight. The snowflakes move unhurriedly toward the lawn. Then the birds appear in a cluster, moving out of the clouds, everyone crying, crying—stay together! Stay together! Over the hill, in the clearer air, the crowd strings out into a check as they continue north. The voices drop away. “You there?” “Yeah, still here.” Geese know things that no advanced degree can tell you. Good thing they don’t need my help.

We do not begin
to know how to get our flock
from here to summer. 

March 20

Late season snow, heavy and wet and crunchy on top. A smattering of deer hair across the trail: looking back for the source, I see the melted spot under an apple at the edge of the woods. Up ahead the corgis have found a pawed up place. They roll exuberantly in the scuffed grass and leaves. A meager spot for dinner, but a superior place to squirm out your joy.

The night scene unfolds
in trail marks—deer bed, beech nuts.
Drift away at dawn.

March 10

Second day of sun and warmth, and the geese are surging northward. I counted 45 Vs during my little dog walk in the orchard, then I lost track. Some strings are so far to the east I can’t hear them, only see their tiny bodies pass before the clouds. Some are right above me, but so high up I can hardly make them out. They are covering the miles today. Closer to earth, the newly arrived blackbirds are buzzing and popping as they swish down the hill.

A salt and pepper flock of Canadas and snows passes over. “Good luck!” I call. “Bon chance!” I cry. 

Before I lived here, I wept when the geese went in the fall, leaving me behind. Now I say, “Good luck! See you on the other side!” And I always do.

Shining contrail’s bright
arc east to west. Migration:
yur doin it rong.

March 8

Driving a long way after dark to get a child back from a spring sport. Fat flurries intrude and disappear, intrude and disappear. No one else is on the road, few enough even at home. Suddenly, lights where no lights should be—out in the middle of Tarbell Pond. The white expanse of ice in the edge of my headlights fades to darkness, and in the darkness, golden pinpricks, golden pearls, golden eyes of light, and beside each one, its tender—his bucket, his augur, his sled. The ice fishers are stealing one more night before their year ends.

End-of-winter moon
hazy behind a frozen
sky—fishes gaze up.

March 5

At the high school, house sparrows poke their heads out of a close-clipped yew, then disappear inside. Many branches make safe spaces for many more sparrow babies. It’s not time yet, but house-hunting season is afoot. The bell rings inside the brick walls, and two turkey vultures come soaring over the roof-top, the first of the year.

Before the robins,
vultures return to clean up
the dead of winter.

February 23

The driveway melts off faster than the snow can pile up. Rabbit tracks spread to hare-sized, Harvey-sized. It rains, it snows, it sleets, it runs off. It does all four at once. The wind whips water everywhere. Alarming sound of burst pipes is just the roof gushing onto the cellar doors.

Robins and seagulls are becalmed only an hour south. It is ridiculous to pretend this is not March.

Thousands of crows swirl
like bats at dusk: almost time
to break camp and go. 

February 16

Thin and wan at home for seasons before he passed, the beekeeper in the eulogies flew far and wide to harvest his meals. The radio tells us that positive flowers draw negative bees into a perfect harmony of electrons—the pollen fairly leaps into the leg baskets! The world is more complicated than you think.

I cried hard the whole time and nothing soothed but the animal thrumming of sound in my chest and the chests around me, barely a bee space to be had in pew nor aisle of the little church. One soprano held her score in one hand, her other index finger down the collar of a small boy, who turned and turned and turned a little sprocket before his eyes, working below the cloud of music, trying to understand.

A hive draped in black—
the beekeeper’s funeral.
The bees have been told.

February 2

Last night we earned this dawn, traveling through the blizzard from the ski mountain to home. This morning, tangerine sunrise in creamy sky, golden window-pane shapes sliding across the stone fireplace, the flames below leaping safe in the dark square, far from the paling power of the sun.

Snow sticks to the branches, stark against the blue, blue sky. On the trail, corgis blast through powder, ears streaming behind, crossing tracks of other night travelers. The magical marmot says to enjoy it while it lasts.

A sneeze in snowy
bushes—tail flicks away: deer
on Groundhog’s morning.

The Journey Begins

Haibun (pronounced hi-BOON) is an old Japanese poetic form that incorporates both haiku (the 5-7-5 thing we all know and love) and prose that carries itself well, with a poetic sensibility. The content is traditionally travel-based. I wanted to work out on this form for a while and see what it can do, and since I am perpetually traveling with the dogs on the trail around the North Orchard where we live, this seemed a good source of ideas. Basho, the great Japanese poet whose hundreds of haiku are still celebrated, wrote the original haibun masterpiece, sometimes translated Journey Into the Interior, or Journey Into the Far North. I think he would appreciate how you can walk the same trail three times a day for a year, get nowhere, and have seen plenty. Enamored as I have always been with almanacs and Saint-Of-The-Day books, I try to write a new haibun each week. I am posting the first several today, to catch up, but from now on I hope the pace will be sedate.