Persephone’s Retreat

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Curving away, murmuring
The water turns coy.
Dashing past rocks,
Muddy banks and tendrils of ice.

These retreating days are sensory.
The brown lets off a waft of decay,
Insects composting, in late warmth,
A brush of summer on my cheek.

The tawny grass leans askew,
Like a middle-aged woman
Whose good looks echo
In the curve of her cheekbone

Hints of a verdant summer linger
In the long, broken stalks.
A time when the river swelled
Luscious and ripe, overwhelming the rocks.

Today, the ice fingers off branches,
Dipping into the subdued, slowing pools,
Patterning away from edges,
Consuming the river a molecule at a time.

I can anticipate a pillowed white day,
The water converted and still,
When muted shapes suggest an underworld,
Awaiting Persephone’s gentle touch.

Last Friday

Ice melt murmuring like a gaggle of geese.
Like birds babbling in waves.
Trees here, singing in a way,
But not for us: for them.

Three bald eagles.

Lake edged in ice baubles.
Gaudy jewelry,
Dressed to kill,
Below frosty mountains.

Spiraling clouds whirl over

The sun streaks the dead grass strip
A molten gold lining the distant lakeshore
Between slate, whipped and gray.

And you.
Mocha melt eyes,
Smiling at me.

Change II

The mouse carcasses surprised me even though we planned their demise.

Seeing the barn dismantled from a small, functioning stable to a rectangular building has been like my heart is being scrubbed of emotion until it’s becoming numb.

It’s a broken clean heart, and that’s a dramatic representation. Change really is hard.

Gus is in training and making amazing, fabulous progress. That’s positive! The home we’re driving up to sign the lease on today is inspirational. Vern is starting a great job. George, Vern’s youngest son, is a happy addition to our family, and I’m starting a low-residency MFA in writing. Things are really good.

We’re driving over Berthoud Pass at the feet of snow-capped majesty stunned silent by the beauty. I’m so excited to move here in two weeks. I’m filled with dread about moving here in two weeks.

Change. Change is required for every really great leap in life. And for every great loss. But we can usually have a sense of what is on the other side of the jump. This leap seems to be a panorama of plenty.

Closing my eyes to the mountains, trees, and meadows, I toe the edge and prepare to fly.

Nebraska Gods


The sunflower leaps out of the prairie
Foregrounded and unique with dozens
Of identical twins bobbing
Alongside the dusty section road.

This Nebraska corner,
At once fecund and desolate,
With its limitless horizon and sky
And limited possibilities.

Before immigrants emigrated here
The river
The cottonwoods
The larks were here.

The river, the trees, the birds
Carried the weight of Willa Cather’s death and happiness:
“part of something entire,
whether it is sun and air, or goodness and knowledge.”

They carried my weight, too,
One warm, breezy, September day.
I looked for Cather’s vistas
And ate lunch in her cousin’s house.

They support my purpose now,
My imaginative setting for philosophy
Written and inscribed here
As the river inscribes the hills.

The landscape bears the burden
Of poppies and people
Homes, hopes, ideas.
Gods holding back no one’s dreams.