Through the fence I saw a vast lawn
and lawn sprinklers
tossing silver wands
around and up and down suffused by light,
a lazy saraband
and I felt the beauty of it
take my breath away.
But across the perfect
grounds and gardens, on the paths, on the grand
veranda, there was no one
to see or join the dance
of the water-body, of the shoulder-sway of the world,
the looping languor of summer,
beauty to spare, repeating,
waving bright watery arms in long loops
forever in the sunlight, no one
and now you.
A Small Bladed Song of Winter
I step onto the balcony
and look out over the city's wounded skyline.
Snow is falling, darkness
fills my cup.
We are loved into life and carried on a river
unknown to us.
what went through your mind
when you saw the same snakes years later
mating? All those years of being a woman
and having children, all those years being blind.
Did you understand what it means to be human?
A grandfather with white hair,
I sit in the warm kitchen, whittling a piece of birch.
From my knife white curls of fragrant wood
drift down. Shavings cover the floor-- look!
each one is a tiny boat.
In the winter nothing grows but the soul,
warm in the frozen earth, feeding
on dreams. Deep beneath black ribs of ice
eyelids grow luminous, whiskers tremble.
What begins as anthracite, ends as a diamond!
Richard E. Messer is the author of A Life on Earth and Dark Healing (Fisher King Press) and of the memoir Down the Big Rivers, from Three Fork, Montana, to New Orleans, Louisiana, 2015.