photo ~ bob arnold
There is the absolute way
Of doing it, and we have done it
Many times and again —
How I will come to you
How you will meet me
The early morning sun
Perfect on the bed, and
Stripes in the Mexican blanket
Like blood, the sea, yellow iris petals —
And it is a silly lovers ritual of ours,
I hug you and you hug me and step onto
My boots, and I walk you and me around the
Sunlit room, the sway of patchouli in your hair,
And your face smooth against my lips
Like the inside of your hands
Tonight, because her hand is in pain, the small finger
Swollen, yes, I’ll stir the
Batter, although she is better
And first taught me how
Something is done right.
And I came from behind
And smelled the skin of
Her neck, the long blonde
Hairs alive and the blouse
White and rough, tucked into
A thin summer skirt.
Winter, near Christmas,
3 feet of snow and her
Body moves across the
Cabin room with summer,
A clay bowl with
Colored stripes in her
Arms, the fresh heat
Of the flat iron stove.
By the river I found her —
Long and short feathers matted by weeks of rain,
A soft spotted down on her chest,
The whole body twisted in the crotch of an ironwood
This hawk hung and not a right way to die.
Nudged out with my axe handle it fell with no life,
Eyes gone and the rotting smell of blood and grease.
I cut the claws for the first time, others I’ve left —
One talon broken off and the muscular flex of skin
No different than a man’s, except for the ruggedness,
The pale yellow of it, but a companion to my own.
And the tail feathers — still a beautiful tan — pinned
Open for flight on rough pine boards inside our cabin,
I only buried some of her.
The Woodcutter Talks
I’ve got to go pretty soon
So I’ll take my boots off
And shake out the snow,
Sit close to the fire you
Have built, then left for me.
I’m in no hurry until the sun comes up.
My snowshoes need new leather straps
But for now they’ll have to do,
Carry me to the woods where I work
Thinning out the half bowl of a hillside —
That’s what it looks like — and sometimes
I rest and watch it for what it is, with my
Wet gloves off, the clearness above me.
WHERE RIVERS MEET