TFR Home Page TFR Home PageContents ContentsPrev. Page Prev. PageNext Page Next PageComments Comments

The following is a working edition of a recent chapbook. The poems are dated as reminders to me about when they occurred. Expect changes as I edit. I welcome your comments. Please let me know which poems you feel are strongest, and which don't hold a candle to the rest (and need to be extinguished.) My sense is that the section on winter is too long and some may need to move to other seasons. Send comments to fairfieldreview at hpmd dot com (with a sneer to the SPAMers :) --GE/EGH, 29 Mar 08

I split Winter into Winter and Lent, providing more a transition into spring, and gathering the Lenten poems together. Other minor changes were made. --GE/EGH, 8 Apr 08

I made a number of edits based on Ruth Dombrow's thoughtful suggestions. --GE/EGH, 24 Apr 08

I added the "Hanover" poems to Spring, from April - June, 2008 --GE/EGH, 30 Jun 08

A new chapter from the CT hiking album, summer 2008-- with photos --GE/EGH, 1 Sep 08



Walking Through the Woods


Copyright 2008

Gordon Edwards and
The Fairfield Review, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

________________________________________________________________



"He said that he composed his poems just about anywhere. Usually, he said on another occasion, he got most of his ideas when on a walk." --Wallace Stevens obituary, New York Tim
es, August 3, 1955.

"[Poetry gets you to that] which is beyond even the concept of reality, that which transcends all thought. The myth puts you there all the time, gives you a line to connect with that mystery which you are." Joseph Campbell, 1988.

"I don't pretend to understand the Universe -- it's a great deal bigger than I am." --Thomas Carlyle, 1795 – 1881.
________________________________________________________________

Preface

Connections


Watch for those times
in your life
when you come alive,
animated, he says;
see your arms gesturing
like two old men in the market
relating the news—
pay attention;
there lie the clues
to authenticity,
authority,
author.
go to that place;
write it down.

7 Mar 08

Pay attention to when you come alive. These were words from a wise counselor years ago. I listened. When I hike through the woods, usually a simple two mile loop that follows a bridle path, I am at one with the universe. Time stops. Breathing is underlined. Words flow. I am elated, enlivened anew.

I was reminded of the relationship in words in a lesson on etymology during a recent silent retreat in the woods of northwest Connecticut. Some of these poems are from that retreat and those preceding it. (For more of the "Lenten Poems" see www.fairfieldreview.org/fairfield/fairrevw.nsf/lnk/lent ) While we were studying monastic spirituality, our teacher would often start a meditation by explaining the Latin and Greek roots of the word we were studying, like humility and hospitality. Walking through the woods is a getting back to roots, getting back to sources, and reading the dictionary of ourselves.

It is with these thoughts that I offer this small collection of poems written on scraps of paper while walking through the woods. Come, join me. Breathe deeply. The air is clean here and the starlings are announcing your arrival.

GE

________________________________________________________________

Summer



August

So full the air—
embroidered!
Run your fingers
through its texture
like the wind
in a field of wheat
still green—
awns fat
balance on tall slender stalks
and yield,
following the rush of wind;
sit down,
let it wave over you
breathe in every nuance
and become the wine—
in the late falling leaves of October,
remember.

24 Nov 07

On seeing “August Rush.”

Man in Black


For Richard

There is an old bridle path
that runs past my back door;
it travels along rock walls
that some Connecticut farmers
stacked on the borders
of what is now a wood
of oaks, hickory, beech and birch.
Walking this way,
one walks with saints.

I once marked this trail
with white blazes,
one for "continue on"
and two for a turn.
The way rises up and falls
rises up and falls
through the openings
in the stone walls,
through the hardwoods
that stand and watch--
they move gently from their crowns
touched by a finger of wind
as if to a pool of water.

There is a place
where the path is washed out
the footing unsure, slippery,
as round rocks move
one over the other--
a walking stick steadies me,
a mast staked down,
a point around which I swing
like a door on a hinge

Some time later
I emerge into a field,
tall with grass
that undulates in the breeze,
sopranos of sunlight sing
the Hallelujah Chorus
and the sky is shockingly blue.
I meet a man in black,
hint of white hair, peaceful eyes.
He tells me a story
of rock walls,
hardwoods and stones,
the staff and the hinge,
long green grass and blue heaven.

I write it all down
on scraps of paper
with ink that is indelible.
He is my guide,
making a way for me.
At these last turns
in the trail, I am back home;
he is holding the door open for me,
there is mulled cider on the stove
and crusty bread on the table.

30 Jun 07

Glorious Day!


Glorious day!
The blue and white:
luminous;
the greens:
showing off their pale
undersides
in dry gusts
of summer breeze,
proud;
rust branches
from an old Christmas tree
still night-light
a once
evergreen

21 Jul 07

The turning


Barn swallows cut
large sweeping strokes
across the top
of a field gone to weed;
small insects dodge,
grasshoppers jump from my path
the grass elbows.

A cedar stump
has turned to iron ore,
green hickory nuts
fall thru leaves
with a sound as if reaching out
for a limb again and again.
I sidestep an old pile of manure
and witness raspberry bushes
gone neon wild--
plantings from jays engorged
last year;
Small black butterflies
with lightning royal blue stripes
stand out smartly.

In the distance
the high cry of a red-tailed hawk--
looking hard,
I stumble
as I should.
The white cloud
opposite the sun
makes the sky glow so blue
it hurts.

White tail deer flash as
can-can dancers
when the twig breaks;
Toto is yapping in some yard
and Lassie adds the baritone.
I am so far from home;
I am on my way

22 Jul 07

Morning glory


There is a late morning glory
here amidst the weeds
on the bank of a gravel path
into the wood.

The bee delights in its cone
crawling down to the mouth
of nectar.

Even the goldenrod
further up the hill
in a shout of yellow abundance
cannot match its simple,
insistent white.

Under blue sky so sharp
it cuts into the green
blades of grass and leaf clothed trees .

The wind waves branches
and the upright prickly wild things
growing taller than the vines.

This flower of the dawn
is still;
it has caused me
to stop on this path
and turn back.

18 Aug 07

Silence


When is the time
to be wise?
what hour rings
with the ball of a comma?
I sit on a bench
overlooking a still pond
thick with weeds;
a young tree has fallen,
lies old in dry digits,
like bones from last-year’s kill,
just short of the bench,
not quite
here.
What words did it yell
into the unceasing wind
before it fell?
What groans did it make
broken on leaf-strewn earth?
The others left standing,
ringing this circle
of contemplation,
do not speak;
they wave in the wind
as if to say goodbye,
as if to say
we do not know.

18 Aug 07, for Guss Stepp, died Aug. 7, 2007

Counting stations


Through this wooded trail
comes a stray ray of sun
let in by the swaying crowns
of green leaves atop majestic oaks—
old stone monuments
every hundred yards or so
dot the way.
I stop to read the Roman numeral
and gaze at the weathered
bronze bas-relief—
stations of the cross
set on a pebbled path
that rings a lily pond.

I count,
one and two and three,
Six and seven and eight,
Ten – eleven—
I stop to read them all, my eyes
trailing over the sculpted plaques
as I imagine fingers over Braille—
even the turtle stretches its neck
into sunlight to see
who is looking out from the wood.
Where is the twelfth?
I trace back the path
and see stone steps leading up
the hill—thirty pieces of fitted rock
beneath my feet, I climb
to St. Mary’s cemetery
and there the image on the tree
looking out over the iron fence
and the markers of the priests and brothers
lain to rest beneath a well-kept patch of lawn within.
From here are thirteen—down from the cross,
fourteen—into the tomb—
how many are there?
Am I at the end?

English walnuts fall,
crack on the weathered table tops,
tumble to the turf.
There behind the clearing,
overgrown with weeds and saplings
is a grotto, empty, no number at its peak,
nor bronze marker onto which to gaze—
just New England granite piled taller than
any man could stand,
open to the eastern sky.

18 Aug 07

Landlocked

They are tentative,
not willing to hazard being first--
I drop the small bits of rolled-up bread
on the murky water’s surface,
waiting for the fish to rise and snap
in this bit of stream
between the long lake spillway
and the impassible
gravelly shoals.
First one, then three,
then a swarm of sunfish
begin the feeding frenzy.
In this place of no escape,
neither an up or downstream
way to go,
I stand at the edge,
a local god
dropping manna on the hungry.

22 Aug 07

The Loons Call

For Ann Moore

The loons call to me—
haunting—
the wind moves
through tall stark trunks
of mystery pines
and brings a fragment
that draws me back
to a place
where I weep
for what is not here.

16 Aug 06

Magnolia


The stamens tumble
into a bowl of petals
that are pure pearl,
lotioned flesh-soft silk
that flashes an audible
touch me now!
Run your fingers across
the curves that arch
from the centered stem;
grab me, pull me off
this earthbound anchor;
I’ve already sung my song.

14 Sep 07

For Peter, from Faith’s photo



________________________________________________________________

Fall


Grounded


Crossing a grassland field
under so much blue sky
I am insignificant.
A tangerine butterfly
of no name
is my guide
to the end
of this tractor shorn path
to a wildlife blind
and abundant garden.
Here monarchs feed
with a slow pump of wings
on violet heather
with bumble bees so large
I could ride them
on the quiet breeze
that breathes in
and out.
Turning back
as we all must do
on an old rutted road
I see grandfather maples
sentinels so grounded
their reach
is.

5 Sep 05, Topsmead State Park, Litchfield, CT

Parting the Red Sea


The wood is not accepting;
each twig cracks beneath my shoes
as small shots—
deer choose,
run left then right, to the road;
a squirrel accelerates,
shaking its tail like a finger,
bounds up the far side of an oak;
chipmunk is an exclamation point
appearing now and then.

In the field,
the blades of tall grass
bend before me;
grasshoppers jump ahead
again and again;
the cicadas loud
on this cloudy late summer day,
hold their wings;
even the red-tail hawk
soars to a higher tree.

Along the near-dry stream bed
frogs sound the alarm,
hop into dark pools
and disappear

Turning into the clearing,
the wind fresh in my face gasps

I,
a Moses sent,
stand still before my Red Sea—
in the silence
before the demand of the divide,
stomp my staff on stony sand
and part the world

22 Sep 07

South


Autumn has taken a deep breath
and is blowing out bits of summer;

the late white wood asters are waving wildly
among browning blades of grass;

hickory nuts fall with thumping finality
in the wisdom of latter days;

the red-tail hawk circles,
has yet to fly to its south.

29 Sep 07

Far Buoy


This is the poem
I don't want to write down;
better to leave it
to the wondering if…
perhaps it is the curse
of middle age,
the dawning of the acute sense
that somewhere
in ones forties
the far buoy
has been passed--
it is late
and this ship
of racing sails
has turned back to port
and there is a cold
stiff wind
nudging me to lean
into the dark.

1 Oct 06

Stopping where the path turns from the field


Something has spooked the geese
at the other end of the field
and they startle me
enough to stop and write this down.

I should say how the sun is low in the sky
and the shadows of the border trees
are long in the pale grass,
how all these brown and yellow October leaves
sound like chewing corn flakes
as I shuffle through;
there is an insistent one-note bird
yelling go, go, go, go
willing me to make my south;
the wind wondering, wild,
rides the hair from my collar;
overhead are unseen aircraft
one after another
traveling elsewhere.

I thought you should know
before I move on.

6 Oct 07

Autumn Again; New England Shouts


The October geese align
in a honking vee,
starlings infect a maple tree
with a storm of chatter,
and screaming orange is
again the rage--
Such is the noise of autumn
in New England,
a grand shift into the cool
internment of days
that end before the evening repast--
it is a wonder that hope
still takes wing
that these Crayola leaves
that fall and blow
to heaps crunching brown upon the ground
rise up as swollen buds
of singing green
some other day
too far away

28 Oct 05

Throwing off the familiar


Days before All Saints,
wading through all
the beauty that is
October death, vibrant
colors falling to brown,
hickory nuts split in half,
their centers plundered
by squirrels in haste;
the cold wind rushes through
as a snagged thread
from the eye of a needle,
causing the red, yellow orange
to dance in the slice of light
from the west;
the hiker's pace quickens
toward elusive warmth;
on the rise of the trail
the leaves so thick
they have the sound
of ankles galloping
in surf before diving in
to the rich absence.

28 Oct 07

Fresh Kill


While hiking on a well-worn trail
we come upon a squirrel twitching on its side
blood oozing from its neck
the cry of a hawk echoes in the air;
we've been here before,
the trail familiar in its rise and turn;
a field stone wall bounders along,
a carefully set companion
where once fields of corn or wheat were planted,
now trees, saplings, vines, briar--
and a dying squirrel.
We are startled by the drama--
nature runs its course across our sometimes path--
and we are immovable at our foundations;
heads turn, eyes avert;
there is an exhale of breath,
a morbid sigh,
and we wait for it to pass--
this moment of respect
for what was gathering among the fallen leaves
the seed of a rugged oak or smooth beech
that will not be.

30 Dec 06

________________________________________________________________

Winter



Winter


Winter lands
on prey,
stings with the venom
of frost, sleet—
like the yellow-jacket
landing on the spider’s web
strung across my window—
I watch as she out-stings him,
wraps him in a shroud of snow white
for sucking whatever life was left
out.

30 Nov 07

Three O’clock


In the wrap of winter,
three o'clock burns through
the snow weighted boughs
as a late hallelujah
comes to roost
on the forest semaphores
sidling along
a plowed road
that disappears into
darkness.
Yesterday…
flames tailing from the fins,
the classic Chevy passes by,
radio razzing, window down,
driver’s elbow on the frame,
he yells
just loud enough to hear--
"Are you with me?"

2 Dec 07

Starlings


The starlings are staging
a mass demonstration
out my wall of windows
their silhouettes x-rayed
by the sun against my blinds
shut for the southern glare
a week before the solstice.

I thought they were late leaves
blown by the gale gusts
of wind in the wake
of the weekend storm.

Peering out between the slats,
half-blinded by the sun,
I'm startled by the feathers
hitting the windows again
and again like moths around
the back-porch light.

I presume it is their reflection they see,
only so at the angle of the light,
and they are trying to be
a flock of one that keeps mirroring
instead--

all at once the tragedy
of love is illuminated.

17 Dec 07

Punctuation


A red-bellied woodpecker
(it has that weight)
is writing down his story
at an Underwood;
his hunt-and-peck story
deliberate
measured
I stare hard into the barren crown
of the tree
but do not see him;
I catch only the punctuation,
the emphases,
and long intervals of silence
when I imagine he is checking
my every move.

Later
approaching the edge
of the field that ambles down
into a dark wood
I hear the rush that first sounds
like tires on the gravel drive
but soon adds the gurgle
of a telltale stream after a mid-winter thaw,
I push my pace
anticipating the rapid flow
around the boulders
and large branches
fallen in the way

27 Dec 07

End of December


At the edge of the field
a light wind teases the dry brown leaves
of the beeches still holding
onto their withered stems,
shakes them as if a tambourine of shells;
in the distance the stream plays clarinet
while two crows and a catbird
sing the chorus;
for the finale
the geese return with horns
crying

29 Dec 07

Geese


The late year sun low in the trees
blinds the field
where the geese are still,
waiting;
the curtain of night is rising
and they are motionless,
the cutting cross-light
at their backs;
they take turns chattering
a half-honk;
perhaps I am the god
of whom they are wary;
I raise my staff as if to speak
the opening lines,
but they have taken wing
full of voice and choreography,
fly into the solar spot beyond
the naked trees

I am without my voice.

30 Dec 07

The Edge of Epiphany


On an afternoon walk
in the infancy of January--
a baby-blue-eyes sky--
the edge of freezing--
gloves on--
head phones pumping
into my ear canals,
I pass a jogger
for the second time.

She smiles somewhat perplexed,
gesturing above her head,
something about her hair.
I nod and smile
wondering
what in the world
she said as she runs by.
Looking up in the tree-tops
I see
a hundred starlings
shining in the spaces,
late for the flight south.

I silence the music,
take off my gloves
clap my hands
and they flock to the next tree
like early pollen in the wind.

Perhaps she said:
It's raining birds
in my hair
and I don’t have your hat.
Head uncovered,
I hear the chatter
from the trees
between the gray and blue.

7 Jan 06

Geese II


The geese are foraging
for the rare blade of grass
on this winter tundra of a field.
I make my best dog imitation,
barking and flailing
as the path rounds
to the rock wall at the border—
I am the prophet.
The geese are not impressed.
Last week it only took an appearance,
low sun in my face,
but now over the rise
I lack the presence;
they go on eating
and I turn into the wood.

26 Jan 08

Omens


Behind this eighteenth century rock wall
a fallen cedar is rusting to an orange stripe
across the path;
the stream is eating thru the ice,
gnawing at the fixed and stolid edges;
a hollow trunk, a ghost,
barely stands on two toes
curled into the earth.
I weep for the owl
hidden in its tremerous bark

26 Jan 08


Omens II

In the distance
a hawk is hoarse in the winter air;
the sun is a memory
in the barren crowns of tree.
Half a dozen geese fly
in funeral formation, lights on,
a sign in the windshield
and a slight tap of the horn
to cause me to stop
left turn signal blinking

26 Jan 08

Pileated


A pileated woodpecker swoops
in from the field and settles near the top
of a rotting tree.
He works his way down
oscillating from eyeing
the fractured bark
and me.
I wait for the crack
of it's hammer-to-chisel swing of a beak
with a thwack into the softening wood;
but the rapid running timpani stream
behind me plays over the solo shot
to the rim of a snare drum afternoon.

3 Feb 08

The Juncos Sing


A dozen juncos
have gathered on my lawn
with their blue-grey coats
and rhythmic pecking
that is more like bowing—
yes, this is a gathering
of the extended junco family
greeting each other
by keeping their eyes
on the ground
and bowing
like geishas—
yes,
wearing blue-gray silk
kimonos,
holding fans
of tail feathers—
this must be a dance
an opera perhaps—yes.
If this were not
a warm spell in the midst
of winter
and I had not paused
at the kitchen window
with my empty tea cup
I would have missed
this elegant
performance
and it would just be
another day.

5 Feb 06

_______________________________________________________________

Lent


Not yet March


Not yet March,
the wind is the lion’s breath;
at the top of the rise,
it lifts.

Limbs of two trees
rub together and omen
like an un-oiled hinge to an old oak door opening—
difficult, memorable.

The wind is the underside of a river teeming
where a lone goose cries
and circles,
headlining its loss.

The red-tail hawk swoops
further away

and I
in the midst
of starlings in a coffee shop
chattering each over the other
am lost.

10 Feb 08

Poetry


I stop to write this down,
lay my walking stick on the fallen trunk
where I sit.
When I'm done, I get up,
walk briskly to the trailhead,
cross the road and head home;
past the pause,
I realize I've left my staff
leaning on that log.
Like the poem, I go back.

10 Feb 08

Pointed moon


There is a halo of mist
about the full moon tonight.
If you count the stars,
he said,
within this high collar of softening night,
you can tell the number of days
until the storm.

There are no stars.

This omen of inclemency is upon us
without even portent
for now has no preparation
no turning from the eye of evening,
light to the darkness
sleep to the dawning—

No.

This is the moon shot
that stops you dead in its tracks.

19 Feb 08

Stopping


Across a field
new snow on the ground
the forest is punctuated—
snow commas on each tree
bring them to life
in their winter slumber.
I pause on the trail,
walking stick tucked under my arm,
snow shoes planted in the dent
of the path beneath
and marvel
as only stopping can
bring.

23 Feb 08

Two sides of the same scene


Four buzzards glide
with grace across thick grey clouds
rounded above tree tops stabbing
gently into their undersides.
The stream rushes through the snow
as blood draining
from the white slaughterhouse floor
we watched in the movie last night;
the piercing sounds
are muffled in the pure tufted snow.

23 Feb 08

Disconnecting the dots


She called them blowers
with the wonder of a four year-old;
she held it by the stem
a tiny constellation
at the purse of her lips
and blew--
all the stars in this orb of spores
tailed off into the wind
its dots disconnecting
into the air,
scattered, random.

I was left
with a stamen moist at the end
of a shoot that leaves stains
on my fingers.
It is gone;
or just becoming?
Is it is?

7 Mar 08

Slowing


The river slows here,
full of froth
from the rapids upstream;
it makes a turn,
nudged by this rise of land
as a liner coaxed by a tug--
it moves with a weight
of all that is.

I go to the summer,
a slowness in the air

legs and arms
over the inner tube,
floating

7 Mar 08

The Unmoving


The uphill path
through the pines
has remnants of ice,
pine needles,
bark;
half-way up the rise
two naked pine trunks
have fallen across the way,
short limbs of broken branches
radiate out as the spokes of a ship's wheel;
I grab hold as if to turn
and lean into the unmoving.

8 Mar 08

Speaking out loud


In the midst of naked trees
x-rayed wet with cold raw rain,
the lichen shines as lime dots
of paint on a grey canvas--
fog hangs over the river
and the luminous
is not silent.

8 Mar 08

After the storm


After the storm,
the river surges
angry at its banks;
in a small eddy
four white mergansers
forage;
the sun is still new,
the shadows long,
and this quartet
eats the silence,
feeds on the being in the world.

9 Mar 08

Passing


For Ann Moore

In less than a season
of Sundays
all these gray and broken limbs
will be swept behind
in a sea of green

I will remember
the robin's nest in the tall rhododendron
and the chick out on the branch
not sure this is a good move.
Parents will be screaming from the oak
encouragements,
reminders to flap hard,
don't look down.

I will remember then
that you left
at the turn of spring
and despite all the wishes
platitudes and best intentions
this will become an empty place.

Friendships evergreen
winter with their leaves;
we will pull up empty chairs
to a table with white linens
and wish
for the warmth
of a listening ear
the touch
of a knowing smile.

28 Jan 06

________________________________________________________________

Spring



Under a common sun


The two of us go out into a cool morning that’s thawing,
each with a camera that has the few pixels
with which we can still connect,
he with the youthful, slim Olympus
and I with the bulky, aging Canon—
we take pictures of the patches of fog
rising like ghosts from the snow and ice
left from a late winter;
he takes vertical portraits,
while I take broad landscapes.
The light slices through the fog,
writes shadows in the semi-frozen grass
not yet green,
under this second day of spring sun.
A common marvel—
at something seen for the first time together,
not owned or possessed, one before the other
in a banter of wisdom and ignorance competing
for who knows—
but together
as the curtain lifts between us.

Later at my impromptu desk at the kitchen island,
staked out for the way the light comes in the window
and promises longer days of illumination;
I write, looking out
on the camouflaged patch of lawn
where just yesterday we were tilting cameras just so,
trying to capture these passing
minutes of fresh water
hanging in the air to dry under a common sun
and disappear.

24 Mar 07

A phone call with Holly before she turns four


I tell her I went snowshoeing today,
and ask he if she knows what a snowshoe is.
"No," her tiny voice answers, clear as a single high-note bell
I search for the words to tell her.
"They're like really big shoes, but made of metal--
like clown shoes, and you can walk on top of the snow."
"Oh," she says.
"Does that sound like fun?"
"Yes."
I imagine her smiling,
thinking of round serving trays strapped to my feet.
Her mother reminds me that when the snow is crunchy,
she can walk on top with boots.
"Oh," I say, realizing that the wonder of walking on snow
is one of those things that a three-year-old just knows.

29 Mar 08

Seventh Day


Six catbirds crowning the oak
greet me as I wheel luggage
to the car—
they are announcing the turning
of the play—
their Greek chorus of clicks
and caws,
bobbing in turn
like a stadium wave,
an omen
beyond the point of rest—
I am wary,
full of joy on this spring
Sunday morning;
the week dancing
out ahead,
I close the trunk
and drive.


22 Apr 07

Out of the Woods


Out of the woods
the trail turns,
the field rises
verdant,
dormant grass
now impetuous,
wet with morning drizzle;
the path narrows,
a bevy of birds
an urgent chorus,
moisture seeps
thru the eyelets
of my shoes,
my socks are damp,
the bottom of my jeans
capillaries,
the bark on my
walking stick
peeling away,
a dry stream bed now
gargles;
all is naked,
insistent;
I float
thru morning,
become a lifting fog

2 May 97

Morning Constitutional


The old white roan
lifts her head
and watches me
on this curve of road
that leads to her pasture.
Dogwoods sentinel in whites and pinks
a large sun does pull-ups
at the cloud line.
I pace to the weathered fence;
she leans out to me
sad poet eyes so large
I'm lost
Pulsing nostrils
draw me in;
I hold my hand out
for her to sniff
as if I'm Pope.
She nods,
I turn back,
and wonder,
blessed.

4 May 06

On top of powder


I head out, up the rise,
wind in my face, snowshoes strapped to my feet,
the sun buffs blue sky to cerulean,
tall pines nod their agreement
and the sound of the shoes on the new snow
is of doors swinging on a short arc
one opening after another

29 Mar 08


Hanover Poems

From a bench on top of the world


The sun floats down

a burnished bubble
and sits on the mezzanine cloud
until it has dyed all it touches
with thumping red applause;
this is the end of midweek
and I, immersed in this playhouse
have seen the third act,
am on my feet cheering
the players,
and will not let them go.

9 Apr 08


Moon Falls


The almost full-of-life moon
falls onto the copper apron
of a roof
and faucets over the edge
to puddle in the grass;
the air has been simmered to a clarity
that is seen starkly in its nothingness,
even the most distant stars step out
of hiding and bow.
How could there have been a cloud?

18 Apr 08


Dandelions take the hill


Dandelions take the hill today
cow-catching winter and clearing her
from the way;
sun dribbles among the clods of grass
not yet green
and alight on fresh sappy stalks
sticky with yearning.

I take the last bench
on the Dartmouth green
and watch the spring fashion show
of sunglasses, sandals, shorts
enter from the wings and bow.
Ah, to be young again!

19 Apr 08


A very late change of season


In the ides of spring
a day flirty with summer
a gust of balmy wind
rattles an oak still holding
brown leaves from fall;
they rain down around me
as I stop,
look up in wonder,
hold myself and laugh.

18 Apr 08


First Impressions


As the trail crests
to Gile Mountain,
past the lean-to,
I hear chatter
of what sounds at first
like ducks,
or maybe geese
flying in the distance;
but as I draw closer
to the glacial punchbowl
before the summit,
filled with winter melt,
snow still on its banks
and floating,
a symphony of frogs
out from under the ice-lid
call to each other:
here, here, here—
but swim in circles.
What I thought was a frenzy
of mating, was a song
of freedom.

19 Apr 08





At the lean-to on the velvet rocks trail


A stillness in the pines
has my ears aching—
a three-note bird
whistles far off—
and I remember

27 Apr 08
Velvet Rocks trail, Hanover, NH


Without a Care


The hickory is fat with buds,
the oak fuzzy lime,
maple leaves elbow up,
knock red buds to the ground;
magnolias shed tablespoons of white
while azaleas toss lavender
as if it's disposable.
daffodils now genuflect to the tulips,
whose mouths open wider in thirst,
and the heavens, ah the heavens,
an overcast billowing grey
so out of place.

4 May 08


Along the trail


Old man tree broken
at the heel of his palm,
fingers still steepled
to the opening,
the collect of blue sky;
he is hollowed
as a cup,
emptied open
to be bathed full
by the next storm
thundering by.

17 May 08


On Top of Balch Hill


The path winds steeply up
between pines
then opens—
grass and wildflowers amass,
tresses left behind
to a grassy knoll,
a solitary maple sentinels
the peak.

To the side, a stone bench,
young lady stretched out in jeans
and white sneakers
a book shielding her eyes
from the sun—
she is immersed.

I tip-toe past
cut to the maple trail
and stop before a huge Sugar;
a barn owl asks from beyond
who goes there?
I listen to the wind
and branches stretch against
each other—
Who, is one who waits and watches,
sun full in his face.

25 May 08


Pines Down


There are so many pines down
it has the feel of walking through
a logging camp;

felled by the wind,
cut by the trails-men,
root pods vertical
eighteen inch trunks snapped,
and the bark-stripped white gleams—

in the stillness of this latter day,
the violence hisses

25 May 08


At the shelter


Air so still
you can hear the bees
unzipping the small white
fragrances into
the shadows.

25 May 08
Velvet Rocks trail, Hanover, NH


Sigh the blues


I stop at the poet's bench
beneath the maple
where a two-note bird
opens and closes.

It is the last day
of school;
ease has settled into
the gait of students.

I sit under grey sky
that asks for water
and sigh the blues
for the ebb of beginnings,
the grieving of ends.

News has accumulated
in fat tufts of clouds
that cannot hold up.

It rains.

30 May 08


South of Ledyard Spring


On the trail
south of Ledyard spring
is a gulch so silent
it catches me in its absence.
There is no wind,
no babbling brook
no whistle from wren.
When I pause
it is the mosquitoes
who gather to serenade

1 Jun 08


Descending


An orange newt
on the trail
sentinels the way;
were I not looking
gingerly at each root
and rock as I descend
from the rise,
it would be history
among brown leaves—
late for spring ,
early for fall

1 Jun 08


I stop to write a note


At the junction of the velvet rocks trail,
a chipmunk is flirting with me—
darting from under rock,
looking at me, pouches full
darting back—
a dozen times
until sure I am not a threat
scampers over the rise
and disappears

7 Jun 08


Roadkill


The starling is looking sideways,
wings unfurled,
mimicking the eagle.
The frog has jumped
into his shadow.
The infant raccoon
still has its smile.
Even the worm is not busy

14 Jun 08


Near the Convent at Villa Maria


Under towering pines
on a long leg of country road
a sister passes on a bicycle
rosary dangling from her left hand
clutching the black rubber handle
above the brakes.
The white and pale blue
of her linen shroud billows and flaps
like wings;
the aisle parts before her,
she pedals over paved way
with order
and out of doors.

21 Jun 08


In the Forest


In the forest
the wind that remains
from the trunks that drink
moves three ferns
so they seem to wave,
catch my eye,
sing in whispers:
do you hear the geese
you can not yet see?

21 Jun 08


A Summer Hiking Album



Gnats Rising on a Sea of Ferns


In the midst of a sea of ferns
I am the tree stepping
into these wind caps of lime;
a shaft of sun pokes
through the canopy and spotlights
a helix of gnats
dancing in a column as if falling over
each other in flight;
when they pause, I move on
while a black butterfly dances
around me.

9 Aug 08
On the Mohawk Trail






Horizon

The trail turns here,
tall in the timber,
light gathers ahead
and crooks its finger—
up the ledge, through the scrub pine
it opens itself to me.
Sitting on the pumice of pocked granite,
I lean on my hand and grasp
the raspy texture of an ancient
lifting from the core—
if I were to move a leg or arm
I would be rent;
on the sharp enormity
of this ground,
I bleed.

22 Aug 08






Laurel

Along the great ledge
in Devil's Den
the trail dips among
the gnarled and twisted trunks
of old laurel,
leaves fighting above my head
for a rare vein of light--
each turn in their lanky torsos
a yielding to some unknown force
that caused it to bend
move to a new slant
of wind, water, sun--
it does not matter;
in its opening it was moved,
became one with the word,
soaked in it,
starved
wanted,
grew.

24 Aug 08






Things that don’t belong

Things that don't belong
in the forest:
a crumpled red and green birthday balloon,
perfect white blazes,
carved weathered signs that say “Deer Run,”
stacked stones, large to small,
hiking shoes with the bright winged check of Mercury.

I take photos of every
luminous mushroom I encounter:
white, yellow, red, orange, lavender--
each color is grounded
in the fecund soil of the forest floor,
and I, a stranger on this path,
am riveted.

24 Aug 08






Stones

I pry an angular stone
from the path
and add it to the pile,
not sure why I am entering
the motion of this ritual,
but nonetheless connected with the hikers
who have come or gone this way.

I remember a final scene,
grateful survivors adding stones
to the stone on Schindler’s grave;
there is a grounding here,
a noting of passage
a solidarity with the dead
and the living.

Stone walls grace this Berkshire trail
the blue blazes cut through them
from time to time,
tall oaks witness to what was once farm;
the sentinel stones stay
now silent under the canopy--
only the sound of acorns falling
with punctuation
of a beginning in an end.

1 Sep 08



Finis

An invitation to breathe


A sea of crocuses
rolled in early
and surprised me,
violet so not the shade
of winter,
but the stole of Lent--
oh the hope and welcome
in that upturned cradle
of a delicate palm!

15 Mar 08


Copyright 2008, Gordon Edwards and The Fairfield Review, Inc, All Rights Reserved





TFR Home Page | Submission Guidelines | Frequently Asked Questions | Sign Our Guest Book | Contents | Donations
Workshops | Event Calendar | TFR Background | How to Contact Us | Editors and Authors Only | Privacy Statement


Copyright 1997, 2017, The Fairfield Review Inc., All Rights Reserved.
Document last modified on: 09/18/2011

<script>
(function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i['GoogleAnalyticsObject']=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){
(i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o),
m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m)
})(window,document,'script','https://www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js','ga');

ga('create', 'UA-22493141-2', 'auto');
ga('send', 'pageview');

</script>