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From Four Blue Eggs, published by Homebound Publications. Celebrate 5 years independent publishing, order your copy today, and give it to your mom.

On My Mother’s Seventy-third Birthday

The hike is pleasant; the trail markers
are new, ferns and mountain laurel bloom
along the path. A soft whispering breeze
says something about remembrances
and a flimsy gasp escapes from my lungs.
Wishing for its own voice, a trickle of water
inches down a slope of jagged rocks as if
wanting just to touch something, however cool.
In a clearing, I see across the rounded tops of trees
into the valley and into the complex
gathering of green—the heart of June,
new and curious. Yet, everything seems
to be empty. Despite the emeralds
all I spy are gaps; rifts appear where leaves
and bark separate, the gulf between earth
and sky is full of ever-present grey stones.
More than a half-life has passed
since we wondered whether the hair
she was losing would grow back black
or peppered with white ash, but I cannot
remember what we decided. Memory
in its detachment, is as insufficient
as a summer waterfall.

 

The True Weight

West Highland Way, August 2011; a little tough, a little glorious

 

eric in pain

The True Weight

We make a list of all our favorite moments—
best hikes, finest meals— skipping
over the hard parts—when boots filled
with muck and rain froze our hands
and spun through the plastic
of our water-proof coats, each cursed step
you suffered through pain without ever
surrendering to sighs. Cataloging
the singular bluebell doesn’t really

tell the whole story. The tiny tear-shaped
flower pressed between “A Dream” and
“Ode to the Memory of Mrs. Oswald”
in the pages of Robert Burns
does not relate the true heft of that volume—
the pages, browned and frayed, turn easily
one at a time but bound together
they hold the true weight of the poet’s words.

So too, yellow broom and wood sorrel
decorating the ascent through Glen Nevis
or the heather spilling lavender toward
the modest peak of Bien Inverveigh
can never be summarized
in one sprig of tiny rainbow blooms.

From Four Blue Eggs, Homebound Publications, 2014

Mont Jacques-Cartier

Given the curve of the horizon, here is surprisingly appropriate poem, written more than 20 years ago, which captures our hike up the highest peak in southern Quebec.

The World is Round
When I close my eyes
the grass is parched hair
and the sky is old slate,
but I am not lonely.
This is a nervous habit –
the way I think, the way I dance
without sound, like a cat
floating through empty hallways
searching for mice.
When I wonder, I hear
a sunbeam in the ocean
where I am nothing but a tear drop
falling into morning shadows.
And when I sing,
it is the departure of sparrows
fleeing the madness of earth.
The moon is happy
and yesterday means nothing.