Wednesday, August 4, 2010



Under the waterfall

Leaves finally reach

Bottom and stay put,

Every known foliage

Puffed into a hive

May strike you dizzy

When the sun is on them

And water above flows

Clear, the shaken colors

Point into your eyes

First winter light


You’d think it would have

Lasted forever like some

Of them around here do —

This one halfway nested

Beneath the ground, piled

On stone. Downstairs, then

Empty of buckets, if you looked

Above between wide floor boards

You would see where tubs

Of sap are brought to boil

And a few souls go at it day and night

In this tiny place with windows lit

And open shutters of the cupola

Dieseling clouds of sweet steam

Had you at some point in the day

Lean for a cooling moment out the

Sugarhouse door — feeling a realness

In yourself, the redwing’s flight over

Steep pasture, dry mud on high boots —

All of this for warm days and cold nights.

While the fire that bubbled your syrup

Was somehow the same fire

That burned you down.


After love, you lift your dress

Wash in cold running water.

I’ve to work in the morning,

Drive through the field, frighten

A flicker from wet grass

To the stone wall, birch, white oak.

It all started with you hugging my neck

Pulling back and laughing.

We’d open a large window upstairs

Lie down in the river sound.

The mason’s young helper unloads stone

Then breaks for a cigarette,

All day guns cement mixer blades.

Long handle shovel stuck in sand

Lime dust blowing

Whitewash peeling from ripped out

Barn ceiling boards.

Two weeks ago this was a new job —

Rotten sills weren’t jacked

Bolts cut —

A buzzard flew up from the valley

Cockeyed in stiff wind

Beating rough edged wings,

Very black on melting snow.

Now 4-wheel drives burn tread

On the hillside, tool boxes slam

Workers pitch vision to the ground,

Black flies sting our skin.

By the end of day a red fox

Hops out of that sunny part of the field.

I hear a school bus downshift miles away.

Two guys clean out a wheelbarrow

Drink from the hose

Talk of bear hunting.

from Where Rivers Meet, Bob Arnold
photo © bob arnold