Monday, July 11, 2016



Away from the road,
Off into the high edge
Of a field, unless I
Looked carefully you
Would never have been seen
Picking wildflowers
Growing in folds of sunlight
Among the tall grass.

Each snipped by hand
At the same height, then
Gathered inside a pail
Of shallow water.

The world seems weightless
Watching you work,
If this is work —
You call it a prize
Saved for the last
Hour of the afternoon,
Taking away what this
Plot of land has to give —
Flowers for the kitchen table,
Brightened windowsills.

Day and Night

How often have we
Stepped together into water —
You left your clothes on the rocks
And shivered your way to me,
Said it was freezing as I thought
Of the mountain stream filling this
Clear basin of evening light, and how
Swallows showed us the angles of the sky
Far above barbed wire and pasture heat
Which we came down from after work
Smelling lilac in the breeze —
And it was the long blonde hair you shook
Out of a blue bandana and later braided
That had me remember the day and night.


He was the first
One ever to show
Me anything, and
Make sense, about
A garden. When he
Called me down into
The fenced half-acre
I walked through the
Wire gate and found
Him shoulder high
In the early morning
Blossom of peas.
And snapping a pod
Open, with the same
Hands that cut timber,
Mended fence and
Milked cows — who
Came in here every
Morning before he
Went off to chores —
He put everything
Into my hands
When he said,
Now taste this.

                        for Jim Koller

The town is acting proud,
Even a photograph in the newspaper,
Everyone I talk to hereabouts
Has something to say about
The bear that was shot nearby.

I haven’t really pinned down
Where it was killed, but one
Mile between us and the radius
Of the valley seems a fair account.
That would include across the river,
Up the incline of timber to
Owl’s Head Range, where three winters
In a row we would hear probably
The same bear rumbling around
In this box of territory left to roam.

Funny noises he makes, hoots
And barks, moans with long silence.
We listened. No better than
The next guy, just listened
To a sound you don’t hear
Too much of any longer hereabouts.
Like the golden eagle over
West River last spring, ice going out
I stood there where I was working,
Chain saw shut down quiet,
Watching the bird float above the day —
You miss it when it’s gone.


Bob Arnold