Box

Between the shark’s teeth
collected in the river-
bed and the still sharp

flints of the Yokuts,
the horizon of my child-
hood rattled around

in a box for years.
Lost now, it fixed my iden-
tity in Dreamtime.

I’d love to have it
back, but memory, mere mem-
ory must suffice.

Commuter

First light on the tracks.
How many years, how many
trains to catch at dawn.

I the commuter.
I’d fall asleep on the re-
turn trip, miss my change.

That was years ago.
Nothing so punishing now,
this open routine.

Now I work with the
shifting boundary of time
and eternity.

New England

In the raw sunlight
of this mid-December day
the distance between

the horizon and
the front doors of our houses
makes me wish for snow.

I preoccupy
myself with raking the leaves
into piles to burn.

Smoke gets in my eyes.
I can’t wait to see the im-
maculate first flake.

Tides

On school vacations
we’d leave our desert home for
the Pacific coast.

I’d watch the tide pools
empty and fill as the waves
came in and out. Time

well spent. When full the
pool would display in color
the wonder of star

fish. I’d lean over
the pool entranced until it
emptied. Narcissi-

sm came later. A
child again I wait for words
to come rushing back.

Idealist

You say the world is
made of shadows of things you
cannot know, your self

included. You wake
in the cold and make coffee.
You plan your day. Odds

are something will change
your plans. For the moment you
hum a nervous tune.

Birches

Today the sunlight
on the rough trunks of birches
now stripped of their leaves.

In a Holy Son-
net Donne rhymes ‘ravished’
and ‘dead.’ Anne Donne dead

turns him heavenward.
The morning sun on the white
bark of the birches.

Routine

In your absence I
get through the day, my proper
Opus Dei: work

(dust in the sunbeams),
reading (perplexed ones like Hill,
Dickinson, Dante),

and liturgy (these
two-voiced songs between you/past
and you/now, presence

irrepressible).
The rest of the day I spend
playing with the cat.