Before the equinox, while the river,
locked in ice, for all its life, might
be a glacier destined to never
reach the sea, willow twigs sense shorter nights,
show a bitter yellow against the snow.
A subtle slave rebellion, this ploy
of shaking winter’s chains. Bitter because we know
the taste, remembering the boy’s
first willow whistle: the sap
beneath the slippery bark tart
to his tongue. Cutting groove and notch, he snaps
his jackknife shut, blows one note to start
the year. Dance now to the whistle’s call
before the spring’s leaves fatten for the fall.
Jackson Hot Springs, Oregon
Lichens on still leafless oaks
make a gray foliage against
the seasons’s first green grass
on the hill’s steep slope.
Three mule deer start down
with mincing steps, their ears
turning nervously, their legs
as thin as puppet sticks.
The water is as blue as old glass
beneath a cloud of sulfurous steam,
runs off over stones chalked
white with sulfates, runs cool
into the bright morning light.
The deer come by ancient custom
to drink the bitter water, pausing
between the bearded oaks,
accepting earth’s flesh, the fresh grass.
Mariculture: The Sea Constrained
What would it be
to be a pilgrim in a pen?
on a floating walkway
a madonna in baggy yellow oilskins
broadcasts pink shrimp waste
sowing her magic.
The tide runs free
through heavy netting, pouches
like Poseidon’s scrotum hung
swelling and pulsing.
Fish magically rise
sprout grow filling watery meadows
with orgasmic flashing. A sea god’s
seed spilled sinking fading
like semen stains on dirty sheets
while sea birds shrill above
and far below seals
like shadowy succubae
shudder the netting then swim away
leaving the pilgrims
in their pens awaiting
their final transmigration.
Where ever you are
at the end may be
the promised land.