Ashes on the Soles of Their Feet

footstepsUncivilized love baked beauty
into the skin of the already wounded

every now again they find ashes
on the soles of their feet
wondering,
“Where was it again that we walked?”

and a trace of delightful magnetic storms
stirring ungulate electric
flickers in the night as deaf dreams

before again lurching through alleys
with fitful lanterns

she had blown the whistle
and he arrived with a rainbow wand
insufficiently attired

and as they ran past the tourist desk
with peals of mad and happy notes
laughing under tornado skies

they spit sparks
until the house split

and burned down
with a roar that fed
the night sky like a beast

eating the last of its young
before turning its teeth
on itself

but where they walked
no one can tell

everything is gone

and only their feet have memories

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Legend of River Woman

IMG_1103She stepped out on the back
of the night
shining the lending

no one knows what calls her out
dressed in flowing gown
of sky black and mountain blue memories

the sea?
the moon?
the play of her own flow?

A legend was born on the river
on the face of the wet rocks
blushing the white kiss of the moon

in the hour of birth
before the birds break
their succulent silence

and in her crawling
the river crawls

and in her drifting
the world drifts
across the wakening land

Heron is her first—
he knows without talking

the legend born here
before the humans came

owl heard it from jackrabbit
who heard it from mallard
who was told by a furry friend
of otter’s who knew heron’s sister
the red-cheeked merganser

they heard it because they too
were born of the legend
and it flowed like ripples in her gown
a silver memory over the land

the river and the spirit of the river

the one within its banks
the other at the tip of the leaf

the tongue of the otter sipping
the sun drying the feathers of the cormorant

and the kiss of the wind
inside you

one flows around these rocks
the other flows as the rocks

swirl of the swallow
shape of the soul

the legend continues

Blue Pocket of Your Memory

forgetmenotsBy the nose and fingertips
and the slow bone
of the heart.

It’s how we’ll begin to remember
all the things

that got swept away by the river
of forgetting

Let each person you meet
be a path beyond
forgetfulness

finding those exquisite shards
from the original explosion
and putting them in your blue pocket
of memory

Love on the Table

heart tableYou recall a cabin
on the edge of town
in woods of alder and oak

There were big windows on every side
and a porch stretched around
like a loose fitting belt
just barely keeping things in

sometimes it was a stepping stone to the world
and sometimes it was a moat keeping things out

You recognize it
because it was your house
and a life was built there
once upon a time

And on the porch you recall
there was an old table
crooked, but round and steady

And Love was on the table
resting shiningly

and whenever the front door cracked open
it flooded in like dawn

sometimes you noticed—
other times not

Each morning you raced to all the Theres
trying to earn your belongingess
of an eager world
wanting proof

And when you returned later
the porch and the table
were still there

and when you cracked the door
to the home you built

sometimes you noticed
the light pouring in
and sometimes not

When dusk settled in
for its daily prayer

Love became the moon
illuminating parts of the cabin
that even the sun can’t reach

and flowed through the window
silhouetting a figure curled up
before the fireplace—
a dog or a wolf—
your memory isn’t clear

But then a particular morning came.

After a long, winter night–
that kind that is both cold and cozy
and full of memories and rest and safety–
a morning greeted you different
than others.

You remember because the door wouldn’t close
and after a while you didn’t want it to close

and abhorring a vacuum
the light couldn’t help itself
and went swimming through all the rooms

and instead of rushing to all
the Theres of the world
you paused on the porch
here

you noticed something out of the corner of your soul

And pulling a chair
up to that crooked table

you broke your fast
and had a morning meal with Love

Exploring the First Nearby Faraway

Greenville FarmI’m writing a book called The Nearby Faraway: My Year Living in the Threshold and recently the seed of this poem came to me while I was facilitating a Wild Nature Heart activity about childhood memories in nature. One of the memories that lives in my body is exploring the groves that were at both my grandparents’ farms in Iowa. There’s something about how we relate freely and physically and innocently with the world when we are young–and how that lives inside us still. What are some of your first nature memories? The google map image is of one of the farms as it exists today.
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Grandfather said, “Look out
for rattlesnakes and rusted nails”

but we went in anyway
embarking on a bold adventure

without provisions of any kind
or shoes even

for what do they have to do
with an explorer’s heart?

not in defiance, mind you
but only because we couldn’t bare

not to let our bare feet
have an original conversation

with the soft duff of the pine grove
watching us…waiting for us…

we went in anyway, and later,
when we’d mapped all the new territories

when we’d squeezed a lifetime
from the rind of dawn to dusk

when the slant of the sun warns
of the docking of the day

when the reds and the browns
and the greens of the world

had covered us from shin
to shiny face

and the exhaustion of our vast
explorer bodies starts to buzz

we anointed ourselves in the cold creek
flowing through the inexhaustible wilderness

watching us…waiting for us…

where we were the First Builders
Masters of tree forts, architects of forest villages

The Original Hunters
chasing raccoons and ravens

Primordial shamans burying owl feathers and dog bones
to ward off those cursed rattlesnakes

that were just around the next tree
watching us….waiting for us…

We were the First Explorers
lost for days within a single day

adrift on an evergreen raft
fueled by wild nature hearts

because we went in anyway
charting endless bright lands

on a small Iowa farm—
the first nearby faraway

watching us…waiting for us…

Seven Shadows and Eagle Worm

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The first of these
a shattered mirror
shard to shard
eyes of fear

The second of these
the noise forlorn
brought me to my knees,
my lord

The third of these
the lies reborn
from truth it flees
that awful morn

The fourth of these
a memory torn
the images retreat from
storied storm

The fifth of these
I couldn’t trust
it fled forever from my grasp

The sixth of these
a midnight scorn
a venom seethed
and deeply born

The final shadow
stopped me fast
I could not breathe
it was my last

and left me on the edge of things
until I found my roots and wings

what could save a shadowed man
but eagle worm with rainbowed hand?