A winter’s dream

He lived the worsted winter months, content
and warm, beside his glowing coals.  His walls
protected him from prairie winds that would,
if wild, leave waning hearts in withered hides
of all who stood exposed.  But here, beneath
the wind, away from stinging snows, in close
to his own fire, he sang a song of thanks.
He pressed his hands against the earth to feel
its quiet force, to touch the womb of his
own strength, to suck the scent of this, his home.

A dawn arrived so crisp and clear the light
beyond his walls crept in and kissed his eyes
awake.  The sun caressed his face and drew
him out, it seemed, with whispers soft and new.
The light was unlike any he had seen:
so brilliant, pure and sure it hurt his eyes;
so beautiful and strong he could not look
away.  He stretched his arms toward the sun
as if he meant to hold it close, embrace
the heat and press the light against his breast.

“I waited long for you.  I saw you in
my dreams.  I knew I’d love you when you came.”
He closed his eyes.  “And now that you are here,
I know you will not stay with me.  Your walk
along my path is short; your journey’s pace
is swift.  I know that you have danced across
the mountain tops, that you have run untamed
with horses on the distant plains, that you
have heard the secret songs of streams unknown.
I know you long for them again, so go.”

He bowed his head and smiled. “In dreams, I’ve held
you near a hundred times and not been burned.
Before you came, I touched your flame, embraced
your fire and felt the life that flows from you.”
He raised his face toward the sky again.
“I know it cannot be.  Your touch would mean
the end of me.”  He shook his head.  “I have
no want for life to live a dream or dreams
to come to life: to see your light today
is sweeter even than the dream.  Enough.”

He lived the worsted winter months, content
and warm, beside his glowing coals.  His walls
protected him from prairie winds that would,
if wild, leave waning hearts in withered hides
of all who stood exposed.  But here, beneath
the wind, away from stinging snows, in close
to his own fire, his heart was full of thanks.
His fingers wrapped around his flute and lips
blew happy songs of love: for light, for heat,
for hints of spring that dance within a dream.

In the end

Oh sacred, final morning still,
Your frosted breath has chilled the air.
The hints of light above the hill
Evoke this humble, solemn prayer:
Enchant our hearts with unhurried pace,
Impede the rise of morning’s glow;
In mercy, allow a moment’s grace,
And pass the hours of this day slow.
Create a pause for whispers soft,
For those who need a last embrace,
For those who send their sighs aloft,
For those who love this weary face.
Oh sacred, final morning calm,
Delay the truth we know must come
Provide a modest healing balm,
For their sakes—slow, ‘til the day is done.


The glinting arch of sun on steel that split

the air absorbed the life of muslces warmed

with vernal heat and drove the axe head hard

against the wood.  Good blocks of oak he split,

and sweetly scented pieces lay asprawl,

prepared to yield their heat, their meat, to him.

The hands that held the axe were supple still,

though course to touch.  Their strokes were sure and quick,

and driven by the joyful ache of earnest love.


She said, “It’s time for me to go.”


………………………………………He stopped.

“What’s that?  I thought you had some things to do.

You know:  Some things to do up at the house.”


“All done.”  She moved her eyes away from his

and whispered, “I’m all packed.”  She saw the axe

he held and laughed.  “What’s wrong with you?  You know

how fast the chainsaw is–”  He dropped the axe.

She watched it fall, and in the worn-out grip

she glimpsed the man as she had not before.

She paused, then set herself and said again,

“It’s time for me to go.”


……………………………“The corn’s about

to come.”  He knelt as if collecting wood

and tried to steady failing legs.  He bowed

his head to hide his face and gasped against

a searing pain that started low and spread.

“This could be our best crop.”


………………………………….“I have to go.”


The hollow slap of sleet on pitted steel

that lay where it had fallen rose unheard

and died above the nearby fallow fields.


The untouched handle, cracked and splintered, sunk

a little deeper in the mud.  The blocks

of wood, unstacked, unburned, and brown and soft,

now fouled the cutting winds with fetid mold.

The muscles warmed with vernal heat grew still

and cold in the grieving ache of earnest love.

For my mother

In spring, the wind blew over you so fresh,

so full of hope, it seemed to be the breath

of dawn itself.  In summer, warmer winds

of sun and rain aroused the sleeping life

you knew was yours to give.  And in the fall,

the wind brings you the fragrance, sweet and strong,

of the fruits so gently nurtured by your hands.

Before the winter nights approach, and you

fend off the cold and cutting snows with coals

that glow in memory of fires past, lift

your face into the wind and feel the spring

again.  And if it may, allow the breeze

to speak my heart in whispers soft and brush

your cheek with my most tender, filial kiss.

This old spouse

The paint is peeling from the heat,

and walls are showing signs of wear.

The floor complains beneath your feet;

beware the sagging bottom stair.

The years may dull that youthful gleam,

but nothing shakes the solid base

nor saps the strength from any beam:

This house remains a living place.

Since this is where you choose to live–

bring light to dark and stoke the fire–

you know this house has much to give

and dreams to be all that you desire.

…..So long as you will make this house your own,

…..the rooms will wake with life and love of home.

The death of dreams

The quilt, thrown back the way it is, allows

the warmth of sheets still moist with sweat to rise

and fade, and cool the heat your scents arouse.

Against the longing, I have to close my eyes.

You stand, I know, at the window where you’ve stood

before and watched the winter sun you dread

forsake the day much sooner than it should.

Against the wanting, you slowly bow your head.

Beyond the pane, a mist embalms the trees

in shrouds of ice and, as the storm lurks near

the house, the sodden sheets of raindrops freeze

against the glass, too cold to run as tears.

………I can endure the death of dreams no more:

………I wake, and turn my face toward the door.