Showing posts from August, 2011

"At Summer's End"

Early August, and the young butternut
is already dropping its leaves, the nuts
thud and ring on the tin roof,

the squirrels are everywhere.
Such richness! It means something to them
that this tree should seem so eager

to finish its business.
The voice softens, and word becomes air
the moment it is spoken. You finger the limp leaves.

Precisely to the degree that you have loved something:
a house, a woman, a bird, this tree, anything at all,
you are punished by time.

Like the tree,
I take myself by surprise.

-- By John Engels

Filigreed Fingers


It Is Dusk


Look Up


"Your Hands"

When your hands go out,
love, toward mine,
what do they bring me flying?
Why did they stop
at my mouth, suddenly,
why do I recognize them
as if then, before,
I had touched them,
as if before they existed
they had passed over
my forehead, my waist?

Their softness came
flying over time,
over the sea, over the smoke,
over the spring,
and when you placed
your hands on my chest,
I recognized those golden
dove wings,
I recognized that clay
and that color of wheat.

All the years of my life
I walked around looking for them.
I went up the stairs,
I crossed the roads,
trains carried me,
waters brought me,
and in the skin of the grapes
I thought I touched you.
The wood suddenly
brought me your touch,
the almond announced to me
your secret softness,
until your hands
closed on my chest
and there like two wings
they ended their journey.

-- By Pablo Neruda

For my dear brother and his darling in honor of their new marriage.  Much love to you both!

Hill People: on Lanesboro and Love

In the morning we drive. It's hot and sticky, something I mind only in a vague way--it's just the world working--but because it's my husband beside me, and as he's reminded me a thousand times, he can't take his skin off, we have the air conditioner on, the windows up, the changing landscapes passing us by in glimpses and sun-soaked blurry scenes. We're smiling, singing old high school songs.

Neither of us have spent time in southeast Minnesota before. It's always been southwest-leading roads, beckoning northeast shores, that deep central heart of the state dotted with lakes. But we keep hearing about the Root River Valley. For some reason, there's a pull, so we've fueled the car, packed crisp apples, and now follow lines on a map. First, we pass through farm country that looks no different than the central and western plots we've known our whole lives. There are new names, though: Hampton, Cannon Falls, Zumbrota, Pine Island. We ask each other:…


We like to go for bike rides when the sun is sinking and everything swims in light. There are wheels under us, but aside from the ends of sidewalks--bump down, bump up--we could be floating along a quick river. Maybe we are.
"Name the colors that we pass: Go!" Golden red, golden green, golden yellow, golden gold, a coppery blue.
In August, after a summer of good rain, everything seems to blend together in a gnarly mash of arms and leaves and branches and legs. It's all touching, straining after another finger, another wrist. We ride by and see ten-thousand embraces.
We are all a little bit desperate this time of year. We still have weeks of heat. But nothing is endless. Not even the sun.
When we glide home there are stars, and we whisper.