Joy Harjo

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

White-Eyes

In winter
all the singing is in
the tops of the trees
where the wind-bird

with its white eyes
shoves and pushes
among the branches.
Like any of us

he wants to go to sleep,
but he's restless—
he has an idea,
and slowly it unfolds

from under his beating wings
as long as he stays awake.
But his big, round music, after all,
is too breathy to last.

So, it's over.
In the pine-crown
he makes his nest,
he's done all he can.

I don't know the name of this bird,
I only imagine his glittering beak
tucked in a white wing
while the clouds—

which he has summoned
from the north—
which he has taught
to be mild, and silent—

thicken, and begin to fall
into the world below
like stars, or the feathers
of some unimaginable bird

that loves us,
that is asleep now, and silent—
that has turned itself
into snow.

Mary Oliver

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Swan

Did you too see it, drifting, all night, on the black river?
Did you see it in the morning, rising into the silvery air -
An armful of white blossoms,
A perfect commotion of silk and linen as it leaned
into the bondage of its wings; a snowbank, a bank of lilies,
Biting the air with its black beak?
Did you hear it, fluting and whistling
A shrill dark music - like the rain pelting the trees - like a waterfall
Knifing down the black ledges?
And did you see it, finally, just under the clouds -
A white cross Streaming across the sky, its feet
Like black leaves, its wings Like the stretching light of the river?
And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?
And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?
And have you changed your life?

Mary Oliver


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Winter Trees

All the complicated details
of the attiring and
the disattiring are completed!
A liquid moon
moves gently among
the long branches.
Thus having prepared their buds
against a sure winter
the wise trees
stand sleeping in the cold.

William Carlos Williams

***************************

White Darkness

Whether this is time or snow, passing
Through the night, earthward,
Who can tell—
Each particle only an illusion; yet massing,
Mounting over all,
Hushing the footfall,
Silencing the bell.
“I am confused,”
Said the traveler, “hearing no sound
Though my feet touch the ground
As they are used.”
Soft as a shadow on fur
The filling places
Where his footsteps were;
Lost without shape or grime
His path through the level spaces.
How can we certainly know
If this is time
Falling, or snow?

Virginia Hamilton Adair

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

At the Office Holiday Party

I can now confirm that I am not just fatter
than everyone I work with, but I’m also fatter
than all their spouses. Even the heavily bearded
bear in accounting has a little otter-like boyfriend.

When my co-workers brightly introduce me
as “the funny one in the office,” their spouses
give them a look which translates to, Well, duh,
then they both wait for me to say something funny.

A gaggle of models comes shrieking into the bar
to further punctuate why I sometimes hate living
in this city. They glitter, a shiny gang of scissors.
I don’t know how to look like I’m not struggling.

Sometimes on the subway back to Queens,
I can tell who’s staying on past the Lexington stop
because I have bought their shoes before at Payless.
They are shoes that fool absolutely no one.

Everyone wore their special holiday party outfits.
It wasn’t until I arrived at the bar that I realized
my special holiday party outfit was exactly the same
as the outfits worn by the restaurant’s busboys.

While I’m standing in line for the bathroom,
another patron asks if I’m there to clean it.

Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Dragonflies Over Archer Pool

For Micah

Tucson, August 2008
110 degrees

Dressed in our swim shirts and thick with sunscreen,
my son and I pile into our 1987 Toyota station wagon.
We named her “Betsy”, and she has since forgotten
what the letters “AC” stand for.

Windows down, we drive west through saguaros and
curve around Sentinel Peak.

We arrive at the pool drenched in sweat
and seriously grumpy.
Yet, we know we are close to water.

The pool clock reads 5:30pm.

Immediately, we are greeted by
hundreds of dragonflies
skimming over the water
in search of a cool drink…

Just like us

And where else, but at the
public pool, might the natural world
so beautifully intertwine
with human kind?

We meet Miriam from Malta.
She is 80 years old, speaks five languages,
and has met the Queen.

My son splashes water at Miriam,
and she retaliates by splashing back.
She tells us all about her world travels,
but mentions nothing about
what it is like
to live
surrounded by water.

Somehow we know

The dragonflies
flit and sip
flit and sip

Just like us

We are all
ancient water dippers
in late summer.

Elizabeth Salper