Vultures stirring the cloud cauldron
Catharsis from the sky
Wheeling over the spot where a month ago
I found a small dead fox at the side of the road
How delicate it was
Rusty and small-pawed, fine colt legs
Maybe a child-fox, fox-child
Only lately slipped out into the world
Stepping the woods in a soft line,
a curved string trail weaving in widening arcs
Marking its passage at the roots of trees
The letters of a lost love, crumbled and faded
Or a note on the kitchen table saying, “I’ve gone out for milk.”
But this time I won’t come back.
I went back the next day, quietly stood and spoke a blessing
A shy and awkward protocol tuned to the flies’ humming dirge
Dropped cedar, red clover, yarrow to cover its soft sides
Left it for sky burial.
I’m in love with poetry lately, reading it, reading about it, trying to inhabit it, writing it. It’s an infatuation, a game, a practice of awareness, an awakening commitment. Something that I currently always want to post with disclaimers (“work in progress”). Why is that?
You always crave sweetness when it’s salt you need:
the warm salt of tears,
the sour tang of sweat,
the shock of immersion
in a cool saline ocean
soothing your heat.
But sometimes you’re drowned in salt sorrows,
your patience tried by a strange
fermentation, wholly unwelcome,
waiting for some deep sea change
to relieve you, for a rich curing agent to turn you
back to yourself.
I know you’d prefer sweet yeasts on your tongue,
their musk on your skin, their amorous softness,
but your salt struggle is
the brine that transforms you,
your grief’s complex cultures
are food for your bloom.
I know you think you’re dissolving,
but, oh love, your salt is like sweetness,
balm to my heart, tender with flavour.
Oh love, you’re bursting with comfort,
softened with yearning
you melt on my tongue.
Since the beginning of July I’ve been participating in an online course with Maya Stein called 100 Words: The Beauty of Brevity. It’s a course only loosely; mostly it’s a one-word prompt each day, a few helpful comments from Maya and other participants, and the challenge to write daily and keep things brief. This is from the prompt “salt.” Poetry always feels like a work in progress lately. This is about 140 words, in case you’re counting.