breaking on occasion into the rare
smile of a friend or stranger or bird
stumbling through the snow I refuse
to shovel, I have been alone an entire year
and I want to see the drifts build
I want to understand accumulation
even if it must exit outside this body.

Often, it’s only a river
that separates one language from another.
The surface of the water broken
the mirror broken, the broken promise
that a river separates when it sutures.
A common greeting lost in the span
of so many watery yards.
How we take for granted the daily
nod of a stranger
the gentle downward bob of the chin
the grace of awkward eye contact
because proximity
forgetting the current pushes all things down river
forgetting that reaching for shore
it is dry and claimed.

Traveling further North
to witness, of all things, the effort
of time in certain leaves
in a certain season
this year
and the next.
It is not time.

Not the boredom of the clock
not the failure to complete the dishes
the body, the stretch of rocks that were a home
not the leaf unfurling in sunlight
but the bird on the branch
at the end of every story
a bird in the brief silence
before a bullet, a loaf of bread
slowly pulled from the oven next door.

Winter arrives on time.
These days, after a long walk
the dog lays down
her hind legs bind up
keep her from standing
so she drags her body
across the rough floor
each time I look at her.
It all arrives in time.
The aging of whisky
for another generation.
The gathering dust of pig skin
for the use of jello.
But first the pig
first its too quick walk
from womb to our idea of womb.

This snow dusting the earth
piling up
sometimes for weeks
sometimes meeting the ground
and melting simultaneously
not willing to give or take.

I am learning about prayer again
how it operates within the roots
of its own silence.
How the rind of any gourd
grows round a thing soft
takes the sun’s beating
how the fruit rots
from within. That thick shell
deceiving even itself
slowly softening, too late
around what now is emptiness.

We are accidentally alive
taking leave from a truer vocation.
Consider, each of has, at one point
caught our toe against some uneven rise
in the sidewalk. Where were we going?
In that moment of fall of catching
we laugh or curse
grow red-faced, look about hoping
that no one saw, somehow disappointed
that, indeed, we moved without witness.
That moment, that crack in space
laugh or curse.

I awake each day
to the too much goodness of eggs, coffee
the lack of being seen
and what makes air
define our boundaries of kindness.
The many winds turning
dried leaves against the window.
The window and the leaves.
The cracked shells and coffee grounds
each day turned into heap
steadily harvesting entropy
glory and decay.

We were too young
and death too far away
to remind us of anything
beyond arm’s reach
even the apple

So we let the garden crawl
over the wall at night

left the windows cracked open.
Breathed. Breathed.

Breath of hand looking for summer
the soil turned enough
to earn what we choose to forfeit.

This is dinner
this is tooth
on tooth emptiness
the rooster unable to interpret
God’s hands into a breath
a call to forget
our need for movement
distance, love and all its great
failures. The pitch of the roof of the barn
imperfect but steady in this wind.

Because the steel wheelbarrow
carries only a sheen of rain
the promise of rust
and what more
no one needs

is the lie of the poem.
Lock it up.
There'll never be enough.

We learn to invent the dream
that woke us. Now standing
at my front door lost
in the thought of keys
I am no longer able to love you.
Birds at the empty feeder
waiting. The empty sack of seeds
in the recycling, the bin at the curb
knocked over for weeks
and this locked door
this intensity of keys.
How we hope to live long enough
to begin to hope for death.
How these birds know loss
is not the broken wing
but the absence of sky.

The earth tilts for this.
The metamorphose of precipitation.
How a thing changes
as it falls.
Great boughs of white pine in Michigan
torn from the trunk under the weight
of snow, the collection of a million
singular actions, what the wheat farmer
will pray for in a month’s time.
It is good. This sadness
is my own invention.

I want most to become
your stranger.
To find the great ocean of noise
of where a heart once was
barely drowned out
by the sound of snow falling
trying to fall
the wind pushing then lifting
flirting with gravity.
Then a crash. A departure.

In the thickness of July
you can find honey bees
resting along the door steps
of their cabins in the orchard.
They pant. You will see the quick rise
and fall of their bodies, exhausted.
Meanwhile highways of pilots
loaded with pollen
stream in and out of the hive.
You can stand amidst that current
unharmed, unnoticed. They sting
out of fear, and they do not fear you
but July, its beginning its ending
the rising wave of significance
the sudden awareness of the loss
of purpose, what the sun does to trees
eventually, the hope of a stone
how terrible it is to know anything.