Monday, May 25, 2009

spring says

crows over the north saskatchewan river, early april, 2009

I have trouble with early spring, with a deep anxiety that seeps in with the first rivulets of melt. I'm fine now, now that it's mid-May, & the ground is dry & the river is bluegreen with summery silt. Now that there is green, there is sap-sticky air, now that the leaves have decided it is safe to unfurl, that tanagers are nesting & frogs sing coarse & elusive in the bogs.

This sort of panic is similar to the kind I feel in the mornings, especially when I wake suddenly -- I hate feeling pushed, thrust into some newness, out into something that feels stark & full of ambivalence. Not when I'm cozy in sleep, in winter, in rest -- I feel abundant then, rich & creative & safe. By mid-morning, I'm fine, because there will be purpose & direction & distraction. I'm just always a little uneasy of april's white skies, being dragged from hibernation, thrown into an unknown not quite awake, a wasteland not quite ready to change & grow.

* * *

spring says

spring says go now,
be born! & we are
pushed from

winter’s soft womb
with lungs full of blood
& amnion, a sticky cry to

separate us swift
from our hibernation,
our wantlessness, shift

us into beings with
sightless mouths open
always, desirous to reunite.

but the rough tongue
of the wind comes
like pinebark on skin,

harsh papillae of mother
cat on her kitten, licked
fresh & hairless –

go now, spring says,
now you are born!
but you are bare

& lost & red-willow
shocked, caught now
in the dialogue of air

& rock, exposed
to the crumbling language
of erosion, slow Os

leave your lips calcified,
a headlong slide
into the river,

cracked skull
shining on the wet
wash of ice. spring says

go, out under the
sky unheld by anything.
plagued by wordless

ache for the everything
we once had, we are
ghosts with eyes open,

grit our teeth in silent
yearning. go now, into
the spring & try to find

a way to survive, to
free yourself. admit that
you are wanting. admit

that you need.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

dust, breath, light.

butterfly resting on old leaves, the river valley, april 19/09

pysanka gave to my mother this easter

willow sunday

bud' vysokyj yak verba, zdorovyj yak voda, i bahatyj yak zemlya.
(be as tall as a willow, as healthy as water, and as rich as the earth.)

spring melt vanishes the skins
of things, show their spines plainly,
delicate skeletons bare & shocked:

barbed wire stars of burrs
& asters, stalks of sleeping parsnip
& the bleached tendrils of grasses,

snowy epithelia peeled back
to show us the bright arteries, willow
capillaries that will feed the new

lightning shoots sprouting fresh off
last year’s bones: layers of earth
reassemble, regather the flesh

of our ancestors, transform these
new spring clothes: old woman, her
silver hair turned to green rivergrass

& arms woven with bright birch
leaves; little bird cracking a shell
of ancient bones, flying up with

egg-slick feathers, wearing waxy
new plumage made from her passed
life’s worth of that same water

& dust & breath & light.

Monday, May 04, 2009


footprints & breath-cracks on the north saskatchewan, a few months ago
(for arwen)

april, my dreams still filled with ice:
gliding & effluent, cryptic cracklings,
the slow choke of winter. but sun

slices a hole in the creaky windpipe
of the river, lets her foggy breath seep
out the cracks, pale blue edges

ragged with melt. rustless & restless,
she cannot wait for thawing; her voice
sublimates sparse into

air, hits my cells & spreads like a
snowy hoof-print melting, stretched in the
crooked dance of the spring sun.

oj, provedu ja rusalochku
azh do shtiri bor!

rusalka with her mouth open
she holds the rotten berries
of our small deaths on her tongue

spits pomegranate pits into the sweet mud
of the banks, sings to the new seedlings:
gives us water, grows us words.