Leave Taking



Our happiness today relates to yellow

leaves. They are damp with dew,

bright against blue sky. They fall

away from trees moment by moment.



We learn in time how to use our

wings. They, too, have been torn

out of a sky. They green and grow

and grey and, gliding, take their leave

somewhere on the earth.



Walking far into an autumn forest your

body finds its way along the ground.

Your feet discover steps on heaps of

stars fixed in final flight. Falling

leaves around are hands touching your

covered arm. You lean down, pick them

up, take home a bright bouquet.



Yet running streams may lead you on

into a forest I will never see.

Then it will be up to you, for my sake,

to knock the dew from every bright

wing, finding a quiet place where

bodies can be flames. Never mind

my love feels cold on that lonely

day, for it will grow green, yellow, grey

again--and glide along with you.

                                                                                                                                                         from A Hollow of Waves (1983)



Snowfall on Chemult, Oregon



   Then we were rich in nothing

   but snow and fuzzy loose

   clouds collecting deposits


   in branches of spruce and

   alpine fir.



   We stood by under flurries

   accruing slow interest,

   our minds cashing white


   checks in the cold.



   Our hands in tight pockets,

   we stretched like young trees

   slaving to pyramid points


   at new highs.



   But always a wind rises

   to share in soft profits,

   a run on local banks or


   sunlight's quick fall.



   Now we know how best to

   spend old wealth in clear-

   ings, to find a living


   trust in snow drop-

   ping thaws.

                                from A Hollow of Waves (1983)




                 for Ernest Bloch

                   and Janos Starker

   It's hard for us to imagine

            my lover and I

                    the reason for fine tuning

   the continuo of passion

            and embrace


   Our bowstrings break

            from time to time

                    under stress


   The wisdom of age

            of endurance

                    is a heavy strain

   leaving shadows under wrinkles

            eroded varnish around finger-boards

                    oil on the surface of the wood


   The building of the temple

            and its destruction

                        lean on our songs


   When rhapsody comes

            we play on

                        looking up for direction


   Our eyes shut

            to a troubled past


   Our hands cling

            to an uncertain future

                                       from A Hollow of Waves (1983)



Organ Music in Durham Cathedral

   Laudate Dominum Chordis et Organo


Glass windows

are wings.

They stain

ascending tones


up sandstone arches


in their modes.


Brown walls

and towers

do not descend

to grave


but pillar



and pipe

petrifying flight.

 from A Hollow of Waves (1983), first appearing in The Durham University Journal (December, 1980).


Sibelius Museum

Turku, Suomi


Brown lacquer


are as silent

as grey cement walls

and the wrinkled stone

head of Sibelius,

but a record plays

and the sun turns

with the clouds.

Loud as light

the windows mourn

the rhythm

of dark, green forests

and a black steeple

rings with rain.

from A Hollow of Waves (1983), first appearing in Portland Review (Winter, 1981).



101 Going South

  near the Santa Lucia Mountains


The dirt road takes you

up a hill

yellow with dry grass

you watch large oaks

fleeing like buffalo


There may be a locked gate

somewhere along the road

but your mind travels

over ridges into more valleys

yellow with the same dry grass

in flight with the same oaks

all the way to an ocean

where you rest

in a hollow of waves

moving unceasingly



from A Hollow of Waves (1983)