Monday, September 8, 2014

Dead Heads or (Valentine)

Valentine

 

A few days back, the stream barbled, tribbed,

sang staccato while sliding under Mooseman Bridge

polishing the rocks with its song.

The summer warblers, all peach and honeyed

 

answered in song. Today I can’t hear the water

over the deadheads.

Where purple coneflowers

used to rocket from their beds, there’s these

 

prick-your-finger-blackened-quill dead heads.

They hum louder, Oh God-- almost a dull roar.

I could trim them, or cut back what has died--

new growth might bloom. I could dig out their roots

 

to steep them--a tea to keep away winter chill.

Ah, but there is a bird. Look. He is pecking the seeds

ever so slyly. He doesn’t want me to see him--

happy for an easy meal, his feathers dark

 

as their grey stalks. Do I choose glove and blade,

the required price-- scrapes and cuts,

a little blood? No. I’ll let it go.

Birds and winter’s ice will do their work.

 

Spring will come again on its own.

You know what I'd like to be? A Mooseman Bridge

from Valentine Nebraska, my beams solid Douglas Fir

grey as smoke, my trusses steal, glazed with rust.

 

I'd hold a grizzly five tons without bulging a muscle--

over air, water, stone each footstep resounds

my heart splayed out for you to walk across.



I published this poem in my book Kinlight: Homegrown Poems in 2017 and here is the first draft below.



A few days back, the stream barbled and tribbed,
it sang staccato sliding under Moose Bridge
polishing the rocks with the same song
as the summer warblers, all peach and honeyed.

Today I can’t hear the water over the deadheads.
Prick-your-finger blackened, thimble porcupine
deadheads,  where purple coneflowers
used to rocket from their beds.

I could trim them. I could cut back
what has died. New growth might bloom.
I could dig out their roots to steep them--
a tea to keep away winter chills.

Ah, but-- there is a bird. He is pecking the dried seeds
ever so slyly. He doesn’t want me to see him
grabbing his happy meal, glad for something
quick and easy, his feathers dark as gray stalk.

What do I choose? Hard work with glove and blade
to remove what has died. Or let it go?
Birds and winter’s ice will do their work
Spring will come again on its own.


Oldest version: sometimes simplest is best! 


I'd like to be Mooseman Bridge
from Valentine Nebraska, my beams
solid Douglas Fir grey as smoke,
my trusses steal, glazed with rust.
Rich in nuts and bolts, a molten rainbow,
A Mooseman Bridge, I'd hold a grizzly 
five tons without bulging a muscle-- 
over air, water, stone each step resounds 
against my barreled chest 
brings you closer--my heart splayed out 
for you to walk across.

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