Sunday, February 26, 2017

Februapril

Sunlight streams through winter-smudged windows
Cold blue sky and puffy clouds
Over yards of white snow, coarse like sugar
It could be any February day

Then a fly
Catches my eye
Clinging to the window screen
Circling hesitantly, one tentative footfall after another
Peering in at me from outside

Curious, I ease open the front door
And as February air gusts in
I instinctively hunch my shoulders against impending cold
But instead, warm spring washes over me

Almost simultaneously, I'm racing through my house;
Frantically pumping bicycle tires;
Searching for helmets and sunglasses buried under so many toques and scarves;
As if at any moment a blizzard could crash through
And take it all away

And then I'm soaring
Bathing in the moist, warm, scented day
Pedaling faster and faster
As if not to miss a single square foot of spring

Whizzing over a bridge
I hear the rush of meltwater crashing through a riverbed
Tree branches heavy with buds rustle over the stream
Murmuring polite hellos to one another after months of silence

I speed past a farm field
That blinks green where snow is rapidly slinking away
I breathe deeply
And smell the damp, sweet, earthen scents of life

Where ice still stubbornly coats trails
I ease off my summer ride
And step gingerly through April-deep mud
My footfalls stirring the slumber of insects
Who spiral lazily upward, then down again

I reach my arms wide
Tilt my face to the sun

It's eerie, though welcome
And it won't stay
But awoken from my own torpor of winter dormancy
Today I will fly a little too

...

Temperatures fall
Muddy footsteps immortalize, frozen in time
Snowflakes swirl from steel gray skies
The ground dusted once more in white

And I wait...

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Snowy Owl

"This isn't quite right...", she thinks
Though the carpet of pristine snow and
Sharp blue skies of mid-day
Convince her otherwise
For a moment

A scurrying movement across the landscape
Two hundred feet away
Catches her yellow eye
And she tilts her ear instinctively to follow the noise

Field mouse
Her stomach grumbles for lemming and goose

The landscape, stubbled with remains of golden cornstalks poking through the snow
Is criss-crossed with paths
That machines rumble across regularly
Their roar, at first, reminiscent of tundra winds
Peering faces from within bring her south again

Across the field, she spots another hunched white figure
Atop a telephone pole
Two pairs of cat-like eyes lock
And it is understood that each will remain staunchly in their corner

Food is scarce
Warm winds blow in cool rain
Peering faces follow her every move
"... this isn't quite right..."

Her giant white wings beat dramatically in takeoff
Then she glides noiselessly over the frozen corn
Toward the mouse
Whose fate is already decided by the great northern huntress

Snowy Owl - photo by Kristyn Ferguson :)

Monday, August 8, 2016

Windswept (Iceland)

Monochrome deserts.
Volcanic sand blows gray in the cool wind
Lava rocks reach craggy hands from the grave
Palest yellow lichens crawl and cling
Rutted moonscapes race out to the endless horizon



 Green hills.
Rising up on all sides, at all times
A smatter of spruce here
A tumble of fallen rock there
Switchback roads scaling up, up, up
Puffs of white sheep, defying gravity, polka dot verdant verticals



Steaming pools.
The stench of sulfur wafting upward
Black sand gives way to raw, hot, amber soil
The ground alive and smoking
Gushing, bubbling, bursting geysirs
Escaping the earth's molten depths



Tie-dyed mountains.
Deep autumn hues of maroon, copper and ochre
Streaked with cool blue-gray and slate green
Strung together in a line
Banded brazenly in their shared strangeness



Black beaches.
Sand dark as night
Ebony arches thrust out of bluest oceans
Columns of basalt, sculpted by volcanic gods
Perfect hexagonal cylinders, towering over the shore



Pounding water.
Coursing through ancient gorges
Carved by ages of meltwater
Frothing gray in the afternoon clouds
Thundering downwards hundreds of feet
Before winding peacefully away into the distance



Frosty blues.
Turquoise popsicles jutting out of falling glaciers
Icebergs split open to reveal candy-aqua inside
Lakes and lagoons milky azure
Their depths hiding history, slimy silica, and secrets



Orange beaks.
On flying, waddling, tumbling
Hiding, hopping, snoozing
Fish-collecting, dive-bombing
Cliff-nesting penguins of the north: puffins



Windswept.
The blonde bangs of a brown Icelandic horse
The cod dangling in a shack by the sea
The roof of a turfhouse long abandoned
The wrecks of so many ships who got too close
My hair, across my eyes
My heart, to see all of this

Three Degrees Celsius

The ice rain crackled relentlessly
Against our layers of waterproof rubber
The cold mist soaking through mittens
And dusting ruddy cheeks

Its dance across the night sky
Reminding us that Canadian winter
Will not be ushered out
By anything as trivial
As the calendar reading "April"

I was back again
Waiting for Barred Owls
To pierce the night with their rich song
To pierce my soul with their intense brown-eyed stare

Again and again we stop
And listen
No frogs. No robins. No owls.
Only our cold breath and the evening air

Nearing the end of our circuit
Hearts heavy with disappointment
I stared up at the towering black spruce trees
I could just make out the foggy white light of the full moon
Behind the trees, behind the clouds

Standing for twelve minute intervals of anticipation
Exposed to the frozen April night
I discovered "cold yoga"
And stretched

I cleared my busy mind.
I was aware of my surroundings.
I was deep in the moment.
At three degrees celsius.

I completed a "moon salutation"
And as I squinted up
I witnessed the exact moment the wet clouds
Slithered backward off the moon
Revealing its full brilliant blue-white glow

Suddenly: spruce trees, glittering stars, full moon
And I noticed the rain had stopped
And I heard the full, enveloping vacuum of the utter silence of the night
No owls. But I was at peace.

At our next stop, lit white with glorious moonshine
I smiled up at the stars
Grains of salt smattered across a canvas of inky black
And lived fully in that minute

And perhaps because I'd stopped straining to hear it
Peering to see it
An owl suddenly alighted
On the tree branch in front of me

It cocked its head sideways
I gaped back at it, frozen in joy

Then sound gurgled forth from it
Slow at first, then growing in insistence
"Wah... wop... woo...
...who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?"

Excitement. Adrenaline.
Peace. Zen.
Moonlight. Trees, Owls.
Perfection. At three degrees celsius.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

After the Rainstorm

Thunderous dark clouds sneak over the horizon
On their easterly path
To soak, to surprise, to ruin the days
Of their next victims

They leave behind air thick with mist
Smelling heavily of roses
And the threat of ocean from heaven
Once again

Blue, gray, murky, opaque
A hand passes slowly through the mist
Catching sparkles of moisture
Which glitter on the tanned, dirt-laced working gloves
Callused from labour and time

Time slows
Hands tick slowly... more slowly...
Motionless
Backwards

Sun suspended somewhere beyond
The thick net of vapour
Which eludes the eyes
Eyes mistaking rivers for skies, skies for rivers
In the gathering gloom

Salted water weaves through fields
Wheat which sways in dry summer heat
Now drips, leans, bends
In wet, still, sorrow
Tears roll down


Written July 27, 2005 (found in a drawer on April 9, 2016)

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Wilson Island

It starts with waves
Lapping at and sliding between the smooth gray cobbled rocks on shore

That stony beach gives way to a tangle of shrubs
That claw at tender legs passing through them

Then forest
Mixed at first, with conifers and broad-leaved trees mingling together at the party
Patches of sunlight warm the forest floor

Deeper in, light filters out and dark boughs of spruce and fir draw closely together
They interlock their needled fingers and stand tall to challenge any passer-bys

Trying to follow the four-legged journey of a deer in a line through the deep woods
I am no match
Those dark branches like arms hug me closer
       Wrap around my backpack straps
       Slip inside my belt loops
       Slyly pull my sunglasses right off my face
They tug me backward while I struggle forward

In the distance I see light penetrating the shadows
And march one leg at a time toward it
Ignoring the grasping hands at my ankles

Beneath my feet the forest floor turns into a moss carpet
A plush emerald cloud that bounces under me
My footprints disappear as quickly as I leave them

At last I burst out of the forest's dusk and meet the light
      The blue sky
      The puffy white clouds
      The golden sunshine
And an expanse of indigo inland lake alive with singing birds, splashing fishes, and buzzing insects

I watch. I write. I rest.
Then I steel myself for my return journey to the big water
And all that lies between

Underwater

A different world exists under the water
Many people will pass their entire life believing
The opaque dark surface of a lake
Hides a cold, empty barren planet beneath
      But I know better

Underwater, gravity seems to shift
Instead of falling quickly and fighting to rise
Even the hardest kicks aren't enough to propel one to the ground
     Down here
And the surface calls, beckons, vacuums
Humans always forced back to that interface
After only mere moments allowed exploring

For the wily ones who can stay under a little longer
The passport to this new world unveils the strangest sights

Schools of fishes - forty, fifty person classrooms
Eye me warily from the side of their heads
As they dart left, then right, then down, then back
Moving as a single unit
Away from this limb-ed, awkward intruder

The sand of the lake bottom trickles wetly through pruned fingers
Gurgles of oxygen and carbon dioxide,
     Trapped in snow globe bubbles
Escape blue-tinged lips and race to the surface
To explode in a panicked burst

Tiny creatures, no bigger than the head of a pin
With transparent bodies, and huge black eyes
Rise passively through the water column, looking at me
They are mixed with even smaller beings, unidentifiable particles
That illuminate like dust floating through the living room air in the afternoon sun
Only to be extinguished again as they pass out of the beam of light
That has penetrated the water's surface

The orange feet of a family of ducks sends ripples along the lake's glass tabletop
Webbed toes kicking effortlessly to propel plump feathered bodies away
The biggest feet lead the brigade of many pairs of smaller ones
They quickly put distance between themselves, and me
But I don't take offense

Crayfish, leading with oversized claws
     Blend seamlessly with the sodden sand bottom
They scurry forth, then disappear again into their surroundings
Underwater chameleons

Tall leafy plants stretch their long necks
Reaching and climbing, battling toward the sun
Their slimy hands grab at my bare legs, asking for help to the top
While I wonder instead how far I can swim down

A splash of a heavy body with a heavier shell
    Over in that weedy bay
Reminds me of the snapping turtle whose head rises above the water from time to time
Interested in a variety of prey found in the shallows
Including human toes?  Only he knows

Reluctantly I kick, rising up, up
       The water warming with my ascent
I gulp sweet summer air and squint into the sun
While my legs and feet continue the dance in that other world
Not ready yet to say goodbye