Dark Pasturage —Kathleen Weaver
amid pilgrims and candlelight, recurrent bloodshed
soldiers, soldiers, is it winter
that defeats us? the coal-eyed snowmen
one sunken accretion
upon another in the yards, perhaps not
in ten thousand years
will a blazing thought be newly-begotten, dawn moisture
condense into a word
will the straw-bits in the manger absorb the afterbirth?
farm animals look on
we've been there, seen the gifts
the warm milk, the shearings, how dark the pasturage
where shepherds watch, the sheep at the outer edge
offer themselves, the wolf lean
purposeful, the death-bite quick
angelic music pours out
what can be done with the sun's slack strings?
mirthless, strumming low
in this latitude, will you touch the faint pulse
until there is no further pulse?
the question is known, repeated
from its earliest sense, adjusted to the climate
I look back at the lighted house
hearth fire leaps, holds back none of its
showy sparks, there are charms
against darkness, amulets
to ward off winter deaths, a Christmas orange
rounds out the hanging stocking
God rest ye—
the bobsled on the highest hill is for the children
and the wishbone
set out to dry on the kitchen shelf
children assume a world in that house
not knowing what they assume
what does the new moon know
of the earth's lore, the hand-me-downs, the ends?
there is that which remembers
the coreopsis, the wren on its fractal bough
the heart dissolves into the light, a spectral sensation
the brusquely-cut stalks
having served, the world as we know it
at a loss: is there nothing
in the paint box to hearten it? to lead the Magi
to an inmost crèche?
no crabapple pink or savage red, no wheat sheaves
beaded with miraculous blood?
sunlight in extremis
disheartens the foragers, by any other name
there is a body
grievously thin, not crying out
Into the Night and Morning
What did you think you were doing? a voice
from a sector of mind, late
near sleeping, when satellite images came to me, writ large
as on a schoolroom map, desert browns,
stretch marks across Mongolia, a jagged
shrink of white
would be Greenland, colors of immense worth, deep blues,
of certain latitudes, an everyday cloud of concerns, a nuptial
tendency of sea and air
ignites dailiness into expectancy,
a bank of thunderheads, weather events, a digital capture—
aloft, numb, how delicate the recipe for air
that slips into a floral dress, a turning dress, a burning dress. Each day
I am more sane: one
star is ours, one rock, one tree, oh fraulein rabbit, bee-
stung bear. Who gave
us these words? While days elapse on borrowed time, from what is
Excruciating interest accrues, a Big Top folds, the elephants
will never be made whole. Elsewhere
it’s the heat, the desiccation; fast wind chases a dog into the road
Increments of Snow
The moon full and at its perigee
pours chalky light on all surfaces,
Acute ears hear mice
fidgeting under snow in the woods.
We can't hear them,
almost at our feet, deep snow—
It's difficult to advance, never
the proper shoes, the right clothing.
Close up of an owl’s head, birch-colored wings.
How many ways can a story come to grief
before its characters are
developed, before they walk on snow
wearing shoes that
reapportion the weight of their bodies?
When light is ashen around me,
why do I feel less alone?
A child can't be baptized after death.
Everything's lost on a stillborn child,
voices, coal seams, moonlight
filling a cradle or a cowrie shell.
You’ve lost your mittens, you naughty kittens
an arc of lamplight, a book unclosed, a light snow
seen from an upper window, large flakes
of such transience
they ignite in light, freeze
to a glaring road ice,
on a Paschal lily or lilac sprig that blooms in history.
One universe empties into another, teardrops,
a blood-drop on a slide.
What do I want to end with—
A snow pack, a reservoir,
an animal bleeds out into fresh snow;
a deer stands, turns to go,
the air white with owl feathers.
A henhouse warmed by light bulbs in cubbyholes.
Yard branches scrape the house
in which we listen.
Thrown out with the tea leaves
and food scraps is the news,
on the advice of counsel they won’t call this a war.
In the basement and in shaken trees, time accrues:
turnips and apples in storm cellars,
wind so loud I fear for the hours.
Sentience in the air after a storm.
Former snows may be investigated,
preserved in cylinders of prehistoric ice
while the trees go along as if there were nothing
to be done by any of them, and there isn't.
A sketch appears in a notebook, penciled hills, fields.
A depicted world becomes your vision,
your meditation, an exercise
in what seems to be your own experience.
Does a clouded thought resemble a snow drift,
an abiding overcast,
an incessant blackbird?
Children abandoned in the forest
feed birds with crumbs from their jacket pockets.
Certain kinds of attention
as if there were no then, no now,
slips of whiteness flurried by movement,
just a moment with someone there.