Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Walking at Dusk

Ghazal of the Waiting Field

All these years I’ve never walked the field next to my house
because there was a wall around it, missed three ponds in hollows
I couldn’t see from the road!

A family of ruddy ducks takes flight when they see me, 
leaving the shelter of their small pond
for exposed water?

The crunch of my boot heels in rocks is so loud
it hurts even my ears. Oysters dreaming in the shallows
tighten their shells.

Once a wave washed over the island, left me floating.
I should have called to the other dreamers in the water,
not waited until I woke up.

When Goethe said, “Tell a wise person, or else keep silent,”
he must have known how much it hurt to watch the gull
with beak bound in plastic try to eat garbage for hours.

Maybe it’s enough to discover where the deer sleep,
dreams pressed into the grass: a star turning with the earth
away from the sun, then toward.

Night without wind, take me back to an innocence
I may have never known. Let me sleep in grass
under winter stars.

Today, when I stepped over the wall into the field,
I didn’t know where to go. Too many paths
in every direction, low-lying thorns.
Who ripples water when there’s no wind? I don’t know
who I asked, choosing a path just wide enough
for my feet to pass.

All these years I’ve never asked, never even wondered
when geese cried out, passing over land for the last time,
surrendered to the black ocean.

How could I have not known you?
Wing beats whistling on a night without wind.
Rocks, still, as water breaks around them.

My thanks to Robert Bly and Ghalib for helping me with the form of this poem, which is a ghazal.

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