n Tuckahoe Notebook

Thursday, May 15, 2014

One barn swallow


"One barn swallow"

I like to watch
One barn swallow
And follow her flight:

A dip, a dive, a small loop, a large loop, up over the roof, down to skim the ground, 
Around and around.

A friend chases her, she chases a friend.

She flies to the entrance of the barn and balks each time.
Is she curious why I lean on a gate in her home?
Is she angry that I'm near her nest?

There are bugs to catch ,
She can't answer or rest.

As long as it's light,
She is a fluttering, chattering, swerving, chirping 
Bundle of energy
On the hunt.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Wood Church


In the church of the woods,
the sky,
cloaked in vestements
of clouds and stars, sunsets and moonrises,
calls the congregation to worship.

The wind sings out a hymn
and the robins and the wrens, the finches and the hens,
float melody
the frogs and the crickets holding down the time.

The soil carries the cross
of ash,
of beech,
of birch, of cedar, of oak
and rests beside the altar on the bank of the brook
where the sacraments of the seasons are blessed by the scent
of holly blossom and honey suckle,
of fallen leaf and pine needle.

Offerings made on this altar flow through the river out to the sea,
resurrected to fall again and again and again.

Friday, January 24, 2014

"The Arctic Vortex"


The war on mice began when the Arctic air came
down from Canada
under the gap, under the door
into the basement
through the hole in the window.

The pipes froze.
The mud froze.
The ground froze.
The hot-water broke.
The dishwasher leaked.

The mice headed for the only warm place they knew:
under the woodstove.

The young, the old, they came
when the arctic air came
and made a new home,
under the woodstove
where it was warm and food was close.

They started to die.
The young, the old
eight, nine in a day.

On the counter, in the bathroom,
behind the washing machine,
twelve, fifteen in a day.

The dogs caught a mouse.
The dogs caught mice and took them to their kennels
so they could play later,
so they could smell later.

The house was cold.
The house smelled like death.
The faucets dripped all day.

The dogs snored and panted and licked by the woodstove,
the only warm place they knew,
above the new home
of what was left of family mouse
who moved when the arctic air came
down from Canada
under the gap under the door
into the basement
through the broken window.

"What I see from the steps at the end of the day"


White smoke against a grey sky
above slate tiles
above white clapboards

White snow above dead grass
Red cedar posts waiting to be planted

White sheep full of brown burs
eat faded green hay

A grey barn

Brown and white fields
fade into the black silhoutte of treeline
that fades into the grey mountains
below grey clouds
behind which the sun dies a dull orange death



Like embers in a fire
the yellow and red leaves of fall
burn early and bright.

The poplar and the maple
live short and vibrant lives.

The brown leaves of fall,
the oak and the beach,
linger and cling
to their branches
until they fall in the green rebirth of spring
to feed their roots,
to feed the future.

"First Night of Winter"


The logs break into embers and ash
Whiskey is passed
Stories told about weddings
The mulled wine is gone and the fire stick finds new hands
Coals break and spread
Whiskey is passed
The conversation turns serious
There is no humane killing
No animal wants to die
Life Lives.
The last beer is poured
Rats girdled the trees
(Humans didn't cut them down)
Whiskey is passed
Quality of life slowly slipped
Whiskey is passed
Logs are no more, only embers and ash
Nothing left but

Whiskey is passed

"Warm Meal"

Leaves fall on the frosted field.
A gentle rain of soil food.
The herd waits to move
to the next field where the sun warms the fescue.
A hot meal on a cold November morning.