tanka

tanka--
small songs I sing
to join
my voice to other voices
hidden in the grass

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Roots



The old sugar maple at the southeast corner of the house had been declining for two years, and despite a wet summer its canopy was brown and bare long before autumn.  Yesterday, men with chain saws took it down limb by limb, leaving a gaping hole in the sky where the tree’s green depths once harbored hummingbirds. On winter nights I used to look out at its windswept branches, combed by fingers I never saw.

moon shadows
on the window pane 
. . . the silver
of my mother’s hair 
fresh-washed in death



Friday, December 1, 2017

quicksilver



autumn harvest  . . .
moldering hay bales
sprout new grass
even as the whetted scythe 
mows down the years

no one
told me of his death,
the last
of my mother’s siblings . . .
ripples on the pond’s dark eye

the moon
so far beyond my reach
and yet I drink
from its reflection
this dipperful of light

other mothers’
diamond brooches . . .
I buff
the mossy jadestone
of her silver-legged frog



~Ribbons 12:1, Winter 2016

Monday, November 27, 2017

earthstrings




in a string
of starry lapis blue,
god
is the dappled dzi bead
earth-toned and warm




the fingers
of a blind harper
touching
the earthstrings at dawn . . .
a wood thrush answers

Sunday, November 19, 2017

But Now We Are Many

fire
on the mountain
fire in the mind
ashes ashes
we all fall down

The Smokies: ridge beyond ridge of ancient mountains, wrapped in a soft blue haze of rain and the moist outbreath of trees. The highest peaks are temperate rain forest, mossy and dripping. But now the picture changes . . . because the climate changes. Hot smoke replaces the gentle mist as fire consumes the forest, tinder-dry after months of heat and drought. Crown fires leap from treetop to treetop. High winds drive a firestorm through Gatlinburg, trapping people in their homes where they burn to death. Several days have passed and children are still missing. The Appalachian Trail smolders.

smoke
from distant wildfires
fills my lungs . . .
I dream of the blue planet,
one seed sprouting in ash

Pollen grains tell stories.  Drifting like gold dust on a cold wind, grass pollen sifts into lakes, to be buried in mud for 20,000 years. Grass pollen tells of an Ice-Age Europe covered with open steppes where forests should have grown—the climate favored trees, not grasses. But layers of ash tell stories, too—the story of fires that burned the forests, fires set by Paleolithic hunter-gatherers who transformed their world long before the first factory smokestacks began to spew their plumes of ash and deadly gases.

sparks
from a stone-age campfire
scorch the map
crumpled in my hand
a dusty oak leaf



~KYSO Flash 7, Spring 2017.  Finalist in ‘One Life, One Earth’ Contest.





Wednesday, November 15, 2017

On the Cusp of Winter



An unfamiliar car crunches slowly up my quarter-mile gravel driveway. I hope it’s not the Jehovah’s Witnesses again. An elderly lady climbs out of the driver’s seat. I  don’t want to intrude, she says, but I was born in this house, in 1938.  I just lost my husband, and I had a yen to see my homeplace again.  Her eyes swim with tears. She points to the well-house. I remember my Daddy climbing down into that well, she says. My, it was a long way down!

water
rising from a deep place  . . .
the last petals
of the autumn-blooming cherry
drift earthward


~Skylark 4:1, summer 2016

Saturday, November 4, 2017

autumn light

not knowing
where I am
in a golden wood
I follow the leaf-light
that glimmers within me


~redlights 13:1, Jan. 2017



the wings
of a dragonfly
clear
as autumn light
the shortness of days




winnowed
to the last leaf
a woman
and a willow oak
wrapped in a blue silk sky

~cattails April 2017