you peel away
the layers of an onion
the dried skin
flaking to
the ground
separating the folds
down to the off-white flesh
to the heart of it
watching you in exploration
as you uncover
each brittle layer
to watch you open
to watch you reveal

the winter solstice
is still days away
it gets dark so early
this time of year
i light the wood stove
before dusk
summer teases us
days stretch
on and on
and we fall asleep to
crickets and humidity
now the nights are long
they are full of
animal urges
and cravings
i imagine us
two naked bodies
intertwined on the floor
giving way to our
primordial needs
our flesh
illuminated only by the
flickering flame of the
wood stove

the reflection of the sky
in a pool on a barren
field.
is it possible to hold both?
the sun sets in one
and seems to rise
in the other.
this is perspective;
choosing to
turn murky water
into a looking glass,
a portal.

the morning is cold
my breath leaves my body
in small clouds
the cardinal is already
at the feeder
i can see his vibrant red body
against the soft light
of the morning
he is collecting food
for his lover
i read that they pair for life
two cardinals joining together
and remaining so
the male
his sharp red
standing out to distract the world
it is not pride
it is his protective instinct
as the sun moves
i can see her
her brown body
tucked away in the conifers
those we planted some years ago
a mated pair will sing together
i can imagine their songs
gentle
soft whispers
songs not for the world
but for each other
i am jealous
i watch as he darts back and forth
returning again and again
to the feeder
it is strange
i think
to be jealous of a bird
the sun spills into the world
the day is full
life picks up where it left off
resuming yesterday
i want to sing for someone
i want to rise early
and let my breath not escape
into emptiness
but fall gently upon the body of my lover
let it settle in soft song
in whispers just for us

For Susan
May 10, 1951 – September 7, 2015

there is silence now.
i walk the fields,
damp with rain and dew,
to the orchard.
and there
i pace amongst the rows
of apple and pear trees
i went there to be with the stillness.
a stillness that i attempted
to evade.
in the stillness
i am with your passing.
i can now
be with it, hold it
as one does something fragile and sacred
the stillness is palpable.
the days have slowed,
a shift in nature is present.
and it forces me to sit with that
which causes discomfort.
there is barely a breeze.
it tugs, pushes and then rests.
overheard, geese in a perfectly formed v
migrate.
i came to the stillness to hold
your passing.
you, harpist.
you, free improviser.
you, radical.
you, friend.
you, second mother.
you, nurturer.
you, gift giver.
between the rows
i stand motionless.
now and then a pear falls.
its release sends a branch
into motion;
upward and buoyant.
like a conductor’s baton
calling us back
to time, to the moment.
and then, the fruit,
maybe perfect
maybe rotten
… maybe,
… maybe.
hits the ground
with a thud,
unique
personal
perfect.
i left the known
to sit with your illness.
the knowledge of your great
rest that was coming.
with your passing
i take the gift you gave me.
a gift of delving inward.
into the raw
and divine.
a gift of awareness,
of moments and moments
strung together.
like pears hitting
the damp earth.
like a gentle gust
through rain laden leaves.
like a flock of geese
calling out to each other on
their ancient migratory route.
each moment unique.
each occurrence holding a moment
in a moment.
each one not fully adding up
the sum having nothing to do with the parts.
the parts, life in motion,
life awake,
as you rest.

last night i dreamt about V_____.
what does that mean,
to dream
about an ex? I awoke
wondering where she
is, how she is doing.
the dream was weird,
in it we just drank
tea. the last time we met,
before our lives
drifted apart,
she drank black coffee
and i drank tea.
the coffee was so strong that,
with every sip she made a sort 
face, a wrinkling of her nose,
a look of repulsion.
but it was too late,
she wouldn’t add milk or cream
or sugar. she hated showing
weakness of any kind.
that’s all i ever wanted to show,
i wanted to expose
all that was within me,
to lay it out
on the table, raw.
that was so long ago. 
now i drink my coffee black 
and as strong as possible.
i drink it for hours until i’m almost 
sick.
i don’t even think of adding
milk, or cream, or sugar anymore. 

to see that from
within;
to give craving
title and place. 
lines upon flesh
drawn in earth
cyclical markings.
rich, carbon
rubbings
blurring borders
with past
and present.
marks indicating space
and time,
linear and non,
tell of longing.
repetitive
and endless
like breath
connected,
like breath redirecting
awareness to the moment.
the gesture of holding
addiction close,
of cradling the self unforgiven, 
to re-examine frailty,
to reconsider weakness. 
repetition 
gives form to longing, 
it reveals craving.
presence,
an embodied body,
lines mimicking breath. 
carbons presence,
its lack of presence;
the extension of my being,
from innermost
to finger tips.
onto linen,
to surface external,
to give form
to the unformed,
a portrait of the unsaid.
farther, still,
longing to dust;
to residue,
momentary existence,
held
and held again.
and held again.  

the kettle begins to whisper
it is morning and it groans
to life as if against its will
my cat nudges my leg
‘i am here’
it seems to says
with no demands on me
a frost has settled
it covers the world
in crystals that flicker
in the shifting morning light
i am torn between
joy and heartache
between running towards
and running away
the jeremiah of the past
is leaving
i am not sure
how to say goodbye
i want to make amends
i want to wrap you up
and tell you of the pain
i was going through
the pain that was the beginning
of my transformation
i want to bring you with me
to carry you over
the jeremiah of the past
fades each morning
fades like the frost crystals
in the shifting morning sun
there is such joy here
in this new world
but the heartache
has followed me
perhaps it will
follow me always
into every new jeremiah