home alone poem

My dog comes to the door when I put on my boots

“okay” I tell him,

and he shadows into the night with a bound.

 

I walk out of the dooryard.

My headlamp lights the path, the block.

I raise the axe and bring it down

Spruce snicks into the sugar snow.

 

I reach for another log

And, as I straighten, I am stopped

Half-hunched

Staring into green-blue-lit eyes

 

Last winter, I stared into the eyes of a wolf

Just these eyes on a frozen night lake.

 

It looked its fill.

 

Green light lunges and snaps overhead.

Stars prickle on the back of my neck.

The spruce trees shiver.

 

I exhale.

 

Then, easily,

my dog steps into the glow of my headlamp.

His eyes melt again to chocolate.

 

Inside, I let firewood clatter to the floor.

He steals a piece to gnaw

gets bits of bark on the rug.

 

No stranger.

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Revisiting Winslow Homer

Yesterday, Sean and I went to the MFA in Boston. I love art museums, (though I can distinctly remember being bored to tears by them as a kid) and I could have spent much, much longer exploring the maze of galleries and exhibitions.

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Sean in 8’x12′, an awesome piece about personal space and sprawl and scale in Mumbai

I loved the Megacities Asia exhibition and the gallery of Chinese furniture and the model ships and the very peaceful Buddha in the temple.

We also took a tour of the Americas wing and there paid a visit to some of the paintings of Winslow Homer.  It was impossible, today, not to think of his paintings as we brought Islander down the Penobscot from Winterport in a drenching rain and pea soup fog.

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“Look anonymous and heroic, Mom, I’m taking a Winslow Homer picture”

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The Fog Warning, 1885

As we ran out with the tide, sliding through water still but for the constant bulletholing of raindrops, soaking slowly in the heavy, warm rain, Dad described the grey landscape of fog and water and sky almost the way I have been known to describe the snow and sky and mountains: it’s a thousand shades of gray, dissolving sound and land and the boundaries between this world, the next, the sky and the sea.

DSC04892DSC04887DSC04894It’s beautiful out there, even on days when the horizon breaks down and water soaks into the sky.

A counterpoem from last week: Sleeping Inside

Tonight I slept
on the couch under the front window
and the rain blew in

I had taken my hammock in
Not wanting it to shred in the forecast winds
Not wanting to sleep light in dark rain

I woke up in the lightning night
With the rain soft and cool on my face, so glad
that the sky came to find me

Blaze Orange Hat

DSC03996A year ago, November
I bought a blaze orange hat for backpacking in the Ozarks.
It was opening weekend: Deer season in Arkansas.
I thought better safe than sorry.

My friends slept through sunrise
While I started a fire, made a cup of tea, walked to the ridge to touch the morning.
The sky, rose and pearly, broke against the trees and I felt the weight of the world
Spinning me into the sun

I looked over my shoulder
at all the lidded eyes and quiet faces asleep in the grass, then turned back
to the mad, pink panic of sunrise and felt like I’d stepped for a moment out of a box
Where I was living safe and sorry.

I thought, I never want to be sorry.

A year ago, November
I emptied my backpack and started a fire. I quit my job and burned
the broken parts of my romance. I packed warm clothes: long underwear
wool socks, my blaze orange hat

This morning, in Alaska
I packed my things in a hurry. I put on my long underwear and wool socks,
But couldn’t find my hat. My friend, no stranger to a sunrise, lent me one to wear.
It’s cold, Alaska, in October.

What a wonder.
I lost my blaze orange hat in an eight-by-eight tent in a field of white. Strange.
how that white smells of smoke in a pearly, frozen country the size of the sky.
My skin, too, smells of smoke.

I know I will never be sorry.