September 27th, 2008

poetry, exceptindreams

302: Birches

Robert Frost

When I see birches bend to left and right
Across the lines of straighter darker trees,
I like to think some boy's been swinging them.
But swinging doesn't bend them down to stay.
Ice-storms do that. Often you must have seen them
Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
After a rain. They click upon themselves
As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored
As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.
Soon the sun's warmth makes them shed crystal shells
Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust--
Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away
You'd think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.
They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,
And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed
So low for long, they never right themselves:
You may see their trunks arching in the woods
Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground
Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair
Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.
But I was going to say when Truth broke in
With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm
(Now am I free to be poetical?)
I should prefer to have some boy bend them
As he went out and in to fetch the cows--
Some boy too far from town to learn baseball,
Whose only play was what he found himself,
Summer or winter, and could play alone.
One by one he subdued his father's trees
By riding them down over and over again
Until he took the stiffness out of them,
And not one but hung limp, not one was left
For him to conquer. He learned all there was
To learn about not launching out too soon
And so not carrying the tree away
Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise
To the top branches, climbing carefully
With the same pains you use to fill a cup
Up to the brim, and even above the brim.
Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish,
Kicking his way down through the air to the ground.
So was I once myself a swinger of birches.
And so I dream of going back to be.
It's when I'm weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a twig's having lashed across it open.
I'd like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate willfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth's the right place for love:
I don't know where it's likely to go better.
I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.

Make-up poem number one for this week.
poetry, exceptindreams

303: Death in the Meadow

“Death in the Meadow”
Leslye Layne Russell

intimated a week before
now the message scored in my
morning body
at the edge of the bed

am I ready then
to die


journey to northwest Sierra
Butte Meadows
wait without waiting
breathe green mountain moments

a Tibetan lama in red robes and light
wakes me in the cabin loft
a silent vision of
joy and imminence

precisely under sun
next day
by the creek
feet in deep grass
I sink into the white
see the meadow through white veils

I sink

make it to a fallen pine
can't sit
lie on my back
arms fall out to sides
and hang in summer air
life in the body
suddenly I know
this is
the death


racing white
warp speed white

hold focus

light light light

energy of being
no one

how long
suspended sky time
how long
the white
how long
the lifeless body lying
no I
only is


(then first)
water upstream
down down down
closer closer
louder louder
body molecules
slow resurface of feeling
yet no movement
slowly open
to straight up blue sky bright
mid the circle of pines
blue green radiance

a finger moves
the other
slowly slowly

my body on the log
the log
take time
no hurry
what is it all
but light
in form
in color
(but light)


here again
nothing different
nothing the same
all light


I sit up
walk through afternoon meadow
back to the tiny cabin

grass how soft
under bare feet
each step

light everywhere

how alive it all
is alive

Make-up poem number two for this week.