Your Arms

Outstretched into a warm, fetching wind that will define this winter.

Your arms,

Frustration and reaching,

One more time.

Your arms,

Grasping my lumbering, cold body

Shaking,

Pulled from a creek,

Thundering in flood.

.

Your arms,

Will soon hold me, bedridden and tired of the years,

Finally.

Your arms,

In April, as the sun’s hope returned

And I slipped easily into the familiar light,

Cast across us both in one last embrace.

Visiting

There, at the far end of the long, ramshackle yard,

Where grandpa’s garden starts,

And the apricot tree:

Pilfered Mockingbird delights,

For us, the watch from a circle of chairs

Some Sunday afternoon.

.

But that was before the rain,

And the wind, and shuttered windows,

Only to peek, to scratch its belly,

We knew when to stay in

And dash out,

Before the water came

Or in between.

.

Then we were graced with the long showery spring,

Great stories I was since told, in thunder and sun,

While I huddled in fear of night and flashing sounds,

In the time of peas,

And chicken manured spring gardens.

.

The San Joaquin would run high that spring

Into the summer

When the first zucchini bloomed,

And we rinsed the last of the mud from our socks.

Like it always was,

Back there, where the water still was.

Central Valley River

All these days start with hope,

Optimism,

And some serpentine skepticism

That stays put

While the water lies flat and glassy.

.

This valley fog,

Soured and pressing,

will harken feelings of home,

Summoning some seasonal, familial promise.

.

This is a cold morning:

River hosting winter,

Almost a thing of the past,

On the shortest day of the year,

Defining the deepest place of then,

Like the hottest sequestered August afternoon:

When, as kids,

We were shut in,

And left wanting for a calling evening breeze

Never to come.

Or, now, just a brief parting sky:

A blue never seen.

.

This is the Great Valley: Tethered in the cliche

Of fog

And heat.

.

In both:

Rain is forgotten,

In the wretched gossip,

That orchards will tell.

.

But here,

When the gentle boils of this big river

Still breathe steady,

The scope of years, lives and old people:

No matter how unreal,

Or long,

Turns, now, slowly into view.

They lived this,

And danced to the sound.

.

Hunker down, into this patient water,

Fish, sands and winter bugs still crawl.

Feel this breeze:

What should be gentle and pleasant,

Is biting,

Up along the fetch of a journey,

That is not ours,

But must be.

This chill is almost enough,

We should turn away.

.

Ultimately, though, this grey sky grabs me

Takes me,

Stretches me,

Into the fading call,

Of a day that just got started.

.

Postnote: this could be the San Joaquin, the Merced, the Tuolomne, the Mokelumne, the Feather, the Sacramento, or a whole host of small streams that drain the west slope of the Sierra Nevada. All these rivers regain their magic during magnificent California winters and were once home to people that lived in a truly splendid place now fading into a soon-to-be-forgotten glorious past.

Home is where the water runs from the hills.

The Infinity of Real Numbers

Across the low, grassy plain lies a river,

Some great promise,

Wandering easy,

While storms pass over.

.

I remember this,

Scrambling through the intricacies

Of sculpted earth:

A dinosaur sailor,

Piloted by the distant empty,

Blind to the piercing stillness.

.

This river goes to where it came from,

And back again.

Watching from the hill,

Or floating through the soft boils,

The sun always casts the morning,

The creases,

Breaths,

Shadows,

Stones,

Mud, squeezing between toes,

Drying into the dust

That will soon color the sky gold.

.

New climates and old winter base flows

Gosh,

How the hydrology seeps back out of our bones,

Pouring across landscapes gone silent,

And waiting.

.

This is the way way it used to be,

Like some song playing in the corner juke,

When bars crowded early

And left well before closing.

.

This storm won’t give you resolution

Not yet,

Years will go by

Until the sun sets on a foggy bottom land

In the stalest of latest possible summers

When water is again a pastime,

As the next wind blows:

Turning heads, and raising the mutterings

Of those who still live out there.

Late night

A bathtub faucet buys time

With a drip, into an undrained tub.

A sound that will dapple the other room,

For those who have the patience to hear.

.

Celebrating the 4th Rain

Like old days come to visit again,

Now the dampness will live here,

For a good long while, Defining

Hopefully

This place and this time.

Soon, the waves of hungry cold

Will take the leaves,

Peaches, pears, finally the apples.

Always the last apple.

.

Released, now

To a brief ease of playing in a fickle sun

Soon covered by the gauze of quick rains.

Rains that sneak through,

Leaving grand dripping choirs

And the late night sounds of wet soil.

.

The day opens to waters passing,

And the joy of new light.

Rivers and Funerals

 

The world tilts far enough now

Where summer is almost a secret,

And lifetimes can easily pass in the still air.

.

During our walks, then,

Over brilliant orange, gold and new sky,

Her sadness came to be:

Neatly placed

Into the yielding grasp

Of a freshly fallen maple leaf.

Then, sealed into a shiny blue envelope:

Scribbled on,

When short notes were a thing

Of long Sunday afternoons.

.

Moving water is still great at counting time now,

And will soon lap at the stone steps

Of a clapboard church out there,

Hosting the wailing choirs

Of straggled people turned sane again.

Turning, Part III.

I need to give a shout here to Joan Didion for the way she did it. 

When the Afternoon Holds Just Enough

Life and dying,

Should be familiar

In the narrow, empty spaces

Hiding,

In the confusing mass of briars,

And dried or mildewed berries:

Take your pick,

While the shadowed visitors of place

Sneak back home.

.

Somewhere, crosses a stretch ,

When memories,

Stretch further

Than the longness of stories

Our present circumstances

Polished in Elaboration.

.

The corner of life is turned

In some broad sweeping arc

Penciled in years,

And hidden in a dozen tin cans

Buried in the yard

Over a period of irregular years.

.

The day’s path gives a ride

A good long while,

Moving, really moving along.

The time, like the knob of some old radio,

Cranking slowly one way,

At once fading and boisterous.

.

Nobody talks about this stuff,

Like politics and newcomers,

Poking,

Unless we can all turn askew,

Upwards. All of us.

‘Cause we all see it our own crooked ways.

And one more:

Don’t fall for the witching hour,

Telling you, this moment:

Some speck of time,

that could turn the day.

No. Don’t.

Just watch this time,

like it was back then.

Turning, Pt III (draft)

The afternoon holds just enough

Life and dying,

To be familiar

In the narrow, empty spaces

That keep to themselves

In a confusing mass of briars,

And dried or mildewed berries:

Take your pick.

While the shadowed visitors of place

Return home.

.

The day’s path gives a ride

Good sojourns,

Moving, really moving along.

And this time:

Like the knob of some old radio,

Cranked slowly one way,

Boisterous and fading

Again and again.

.

Nobody talks about this stuff,

Making for poor politics.

None, really.

Unless we can all turn askew,

Upwards. All of us.

.

‘Cause we all see it our own crooked ways.

.

And one more:

Don’t fall for the witching hour,

Telling you, this moment:

Some speck of time,

that could turn the day.

No. Don’t.

Just watch this time,

like it was back then.