Selected from Long Night’s Moon, in my forthcoming book, American Moons

Alley Song

Old window full of sky
and the back of houses – angular
bays, roof slates that nudge their edges
down to sunripe bricks –

recalls the ragman’s cry,
his wagon gathering remnants
over cobblestones tamped down by cold
on mornings when time lay fallow.

Now, towards midday, barrels
scrape cement. The trash truck
whines and swallows, moves
along the alley. Still

I cherish piecework there
to pattern thoughts – gaunt cats
that slip close, drift away
through chalky wooden fences.

Groundswell

Groundswell

Wiliness disguised you, wanderer.
The tree roots spread wide
and deep as branches grow
above this house. Seclusion

formed the rooftree.
The rooms we added
around that tree, field
of our being littered

by sediment, bones, secrets
rooted like Odysseus’ bed
to shape our marriage.
Edge bark bruised by cold.

Dark rings of sapwood
scarred by insect, narrowed
by drought, moved inward
behind smooth years’ passage.

Here, neither first nor last
We lived determined.
Your strength in ordinary
accident, my respite.

Rings circle me. Peace
at the core, the heartwood.
Certain of the path,
I will not leave.