augury for the beginning of one of the coldest januaries in living record

the day we left dad’s, snow
ghosted down across the back deck,
slowly painting the grey wood
white. swaying heavy
on skinny limbs overhead, vulture after
vulture fixed a black stare out
into the yard at some death,
some dying we couldn’t see.
no thrashing of a creature in pain,
no blood, no movement:
all we saw was the rust of dead leaves,
the bony outlines of oaks at the end
of another long year. and still
they sat, and still more came, and sat,
and waited. at least 20, 30, their backs to us
as we looked up, and wondered,
as we loaded the car and drove away slow.

Off Texas Avenue, the parking lot is littered with memories

From the skinny brown arcs
of ballerinas rooted
in a coltish breeze,
the first brittle leaves drift
limply to still-summer ground,
yellow earthbound stars
five-pointed like fingers
whose reach is destined to be crushed.
there is a silence
that holds underneath the constant hum
of voices, engines, bike treads;
the same we came here seeking
so many years ago. tiny clam shells
scattered among gravel tell how far
the sea has come, calling
to mind a beach road
i saw once, where a black man
in an old truck rode north
with one arm out the window,
the bed full of rusted chains,
whole oil drums full. like the shadow
of the hawk gliding hugely over the rooftops
that bank the park, i want it
to mean something, to be more
than soundless commentary:
a blessing. a washing clean.

Current

IMG_1055

There is a little, rhythmic lapping
against the inches of shore long
after the speedboats & skiers have passed,
not wake, but the ghosts of waves,
fading into the silence of water grasses.
I watch the Rappahannock become again glass
under flecked canopy of cloud, but do not see
the two osprey, hunched away
in their aerie offshore nest
from their dead netted brother.
Swung decayingly in the cruel July breeze,
he is just one too many, for all of us.
The knife-cries of the young
hunger for other sustenance, want
to swallow the wild wetness of life
whole. The river creeps in, indomitable,
filling our shadows with the vivid sun
of summergreen, as far as the eye can see.
The birds take flight, and there is no lament
in the urge of their feathers. Pulling back
the beachtowel from the water’s reach,
I think, too, we all should rise
up, and be further from death than that.