To My Wife in Mourning

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bright day,still birds, black
spots on the blue sky, slightly
sway in trees, and wait

for winter to stay
or summer at last to come
like we’re waiting for

the pain to stop, death
to give way to the winter
sun’s soft, warm embrace.

(our son, Brian Federle, 1986-2017)

Winter Tree

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The winter tree
does not move.

Its wide trunk
plunges into graven earth,
unseen roots, grasping hands
feel deeply the living soil,
hold firm anchorage
against the coming storm,

but rising wood, thin
though strong enough
to paint slender lines,
trails into purer air,
gives shelter
to Christmas birds.

They hunch on stems, quietly
waiting to sing open
the dawn.

(12/23/2011)

Atonement

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“There must be a time when the man of prayer goes to pray as if it were the first time in his life he had every prayed.” Thomas Merton

Grey mist
rises and falls
enfolding parched hills
easing autumn’s harsh pain

saturating the spreading valley
with gathering rain
and mercy.

(1 Oct. 2012)

The One Thing

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“Happiness consists in finding out precisely what the ‘one thing necessary’ may be, in our lives, and in gladly relinquishing all the rest. For then, by a divine paradox, we find that everything else is given us together with the one thing we needed.” Thomas Merton

rain
falling
tenderly
on spring grass, on leaves
bending as two mourning doves moan,
beat wide their wings and brush back the sky, falling low to
dark earth, gladly would I give it
all for a moment
in the glow
of your
eyes!

(9 April 2013)

They Are Strangers Here

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Seagulls circle high,
In the heavy October sky

wide, white wings
nudging the dull air

riding gyres
past the waving crest
of our highest redwood.

They are strangers here.

They’ll find no shallows to fish
no mussels to lift
above the concrete wharf,
drop and crush
and delicately dissect
still living white flesh.

They must be lost.

Here they’ll find no flying sail
no schooner driving into
wintery winds. They’ll have
no rising bow here
to amend their errant way.

And yet, for now, they’ll stay,

Graces of light
In the gray gloom
of this cold autumn
afternoon.

(27 Oct. 2010)

In the morning, early

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In the morning, early
before the sun has cleared
our neighbor’s roof,
we move through
our morning chores:

You water your gardens
and I feed my birds.

The rose, the morning glory,
creeping higher
up the blue trellis, reaching
for the brightening sky;
in the window-box
the vinca flaming red,

as sparrow and finch tumble
from the cherry tree

swarming in noisy congregation,
fussing and quarreling, shoving
for more seed –

rejoicing!