Moment of Grace

Between gulps of coffee and groans
About the muddle with the keys last night
My eye catches
Through the small cottage window
The struggling form of something.

All around the garden
Bits of debris, a molded leaf,
Some shredded particle of Turkish straw
From the repaired thatch-ridge
Or small feather that lined
A now abandoned nest,
Are getting trapped in webs
The spider left.

I watch, distracted from you voice,
A weakening crane fly
Struggle with its short-remains of life.
You turn and look, get up,
Go out and rescue it.
I watch it fly
Into the October sky.

What in the wonder
Of Crane fly-consciousness
Could explain this pass from death to life?
In all its faery-winged gatherings
On late summer’s nights,
What whispered myth
In its pinprick nervousness
Could it possibly entertain
To explain this?

And I in all the shared consciousness
Of my borrowed imagination
Am dumb with wonder,
Dumb to wonder,
Do I even know the moment
When, like her, my spirit’s free?


On Being Lost

“This is the faith that guides my daily routines and daring adventures among others. It is an open-ended faith, a path, and not a place of refuge.”
Matthew Segal, (http://footnotes2plato.com/2011/03/15)

“caminante, no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar.” Antonio Machado, Proverbios Y Cantares XX1X.

A hard climb up the rise,
Even with this height the land still boggy,
Clumps of last summer’s grass
Throwing us off the breath’s balanced pace
And now my eyes scan the saddle’s brow
For the map’s record of a track.
But find no correspondence,
Just rock, as the land falls away
Rough and savage to the conifers below.

We recheck the dark, dot-dash markings
That cross the contour’s metric grade,
Before, discouraged, we decide
To take the plunge, down,
Guided only by the steep decline.

We slip and slide on lichened surfaces,
To reach the unbroken line of the wood.
Then struggle through the dead lower branches
Ripping at our packs,
Resisting all progress
Toward the ridiculous idea of a road
And a parked car.

A watery precipice of slippery root and rock
Into the resinous bog.
And all faith in my navigation gone:
“We’re lost aren’t we?”
(He’d waken Jesus now if he were in the boat)
Determinedly, I say: “We’re not!”

I think I know the general topography
Of this wooded valley well enough,
Though, yes, I haven’t got the track,
There is no deer trail and sheep
(To whom I am disparagingly likened)
Are not good wood folk.

Yet in spite of our spiralling,
Through this wet-wood system,
Stymied by root and rock,
I know it will bottom out.
At its root core there has to be
A “drift” a “vein” to take the flow
Of all this wet life and spawn,
Back to our beginnings.

The river is called “Bunowen”.

And it sparkles,
In the starlight of the breaking sun,
Clear, gentle now the snows have gone,
Wary of unsettling chatter, loud talk,
So we are respectful,
Fall quiet,
Awed at its presence here.

We watch as its current curves,
Around the shingled bank of its bend
To find the fall it needs to run
To the glacier’s gouged-outness
And the sea.

The banks are still the conifer’s zone,
Pools of hidden bog,
Frogspawn just showing tails
You’d hardly want to walk upon.
So we walk in the stream
Hop, lightly as we can,
To exposed shingled curve,
Jump from rock to unstable rock,
Water squelching in our boots.

With all this water-leaping I lose the map,
Out the open pocket of my pack,
It floats down stream; I let it go.
Unsalvageable emblem of loss.
Brendan and Magellan,
The great tradition of cartographers.
But the river knows the way
And the map has proved
An unreliable companion.

We come upon the bridge suddenly;
It leads us back to the road,
And the old car waiting.
The saved cold melon from our lunch pack,
Running down our chins,
And home; the way we know.


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