Too icy to wander off trail,
too deep and crunchy to make your own,
the only choice is too follow the track of another,
a dance where your feet must fall within their
frozen prints in the snow, otherwise you'll fall,
if you do you'll get back up and try again,
at the crux, the prints will peter out
and you'll have to find your own way to get where you're going,
maybe a route that takes longer,
one that scares you,
one that makes you give it your all,
one that makes you question if you did it,
but I promise, you'll know it when you're there.
Goodbye Sunlight, Hello Moon
Darkness in the upper latitudes
falls at four in the afternoon now,
it's hard for most,
but what they don't see
if they stay inside and hibernate
is the new world that comes alive,
snow brightly fills up the shadows,
and stars guide the way,
the northern lights dance
for those who stay up late enough.
We may have lost what little evening
sunlight there was,
but in it we gained the moonlight.
One purple flower,
your favorite color,
in the meadow,
surrounded by rocks,
water, and fading plants,
it grows next to the creek,
tucked in the middle of the valley,
like you once did.
It's your birthday,
the day we would have
gotten you purple cosmos,
but now your body is gone,
no cosmos today,
but the flower the grows
in the middle of the valley
on this October day
reminds me of you.
Eagle haven since the return of the salmon,
three in the tree some days,
five on the beach others
feasting on salmon,
dancing in the sky,
growing fat for the winter,
but not all,
a dead juvenile bald eagle in the beach grass - the feds say avian influenza.
Little worms growing up out of the ground reaching towards sunlight, or maybe the rain, space-like, or of the sea.
Sea urchins on land, perhaps, sea urchins of the forest.
Purple spindles, must they be spun by dawn I wonder.
Purple fairy club.
All its names leave more question than answer.
Gold liquid pours down from the sky,
mountain tops bloom like flowers,
a reverse fireweed from white to pink,
the sky a blue only seen once a month
when the moon is full
and then purple as lupine
before all becomes dark
but for the sparkling snow lit up
like a lantern of moonglow.
Light sits differently
lingering in the sky like
an old man on his rocking
chair on the porch.
Birds chirp in the once
the air smells of spruce needles,
ice melts off the boardwalks
and ponds and the dog swims again.
Leaves of Love
Through the remaining snow alder limbs reach like fingers sprouting up from a grave after a long rest. New buds pop on the branches like pom poms. In the deep snowfalls of winter it's easy to forget they're here, a tree easily cast aside, no one's favorite. I felt a kinship with the tree at an early age, though for a time I forgot why.
In the autumns of my childhood I'd collect dried leaves from their boughs for my mother and she'd make us tea, not floral or sweet but gentle and subtle, and I'd drink it from a mug she gave me that was much too big for my tiny hands. When winter came I'd find my way to the secret sledding hill hidden amidst the alders, the biggest one marking the spot where to start and I would sled until I heard her whistle calling me home before dark. Then in the summer I learned how to brand myself with it: place a leaf of your choosing on your forearm, pack it down with mud, keep it there for ten minutes, remove the dirt, gently peel the leaf off, and you have a temporary tattoo. Oh how she laughed when I came every summer day with the earthy tattoo and she'd trace the lines on my arm telling me that they told a story I'd never fully know.
As the trees and I grew, I found a cruelty revealed in the world. Like a cycle, there is both light and dark, death and life, and I found darkness and death to coalesce one fateful winter. It was a cold one as beautiful as an icicle, but icicles shatter. That winter my mother died on Christmas day and with that the light went out in my world. I could no longer bare collecting the leaves for tea without her. I hiked to the sledding hill angrily by myself, thinking of how they reminded me of my mother, all the while snapping alder branches as I ascended. When once I'd easily slink between the alders sticking out from the snow, now the trees pushed me to the ground. The seasons changed and warmth returned, but the leaves seemed meaningless and for a long time I thought nothing more of their story.
They say time heals all wounds. I haven't decided yet if that's true or not, but it does lessen the pain. Years later on a hike along a clearwater creek to a lily-pad filled lake, there came a silent moment with an alder leaf. Where I live, this is the time of year when summer turns to autumn, and a warm breeze rustled the trees just enough to send a few leaves to the ground and I stopped as abruptly as they had fallen to look at the largest of the leaves, an alder leaf. Without thinking, I pressed the dirty leaf into my arm and memories of sledding and tea came coursing back, and it was as though I could hear her laugh and feel her touch. For so long I hid from the alders, burying the memories, but as I gazed upon the tattoo I realized the lines told the story of us and what a story they told.
Full Moon Crown
Lichen falls down from the spruce
tree branches, light green and billowing,
some call it Old Man’s Beard but
on this tree it drapes gracefully
like long hair.
Leaves of topaz sit atop the boughs
intertwined like flowers in her hair,
a crown of gold and amber
she’s ready for the full moon celebration.
A bite to the air this morning makes me wonder if it snowed high in the mountains. It rained most of the day and the clouds sat low enough to cover the peaks like a beauty hiding behind a mask at a ball. By late afternoon it cleared up a little, so I braved the chillier temps and ran as fast as I could to the alpine to find my answer. It felt different than any night the last few months, an orange glow crept in on the meadows, and a teasing cool wind left me with all my layers pulled on tight. Once high enough I looked to the eastern mountains and there it was, the first termination dust of the season, a beautiful new white layer ending right where the clouds kissed the earth flirting with the idea of winter.