Some tasks can’t wait


In the back yard the girl is digging a hole
to China, while in the lavender the bees mutter
in anticipation and in the tree red winged blackbirds
flash their epaulets. The girl strikes gold!
The bees hum out the news, the blackbirds flutter
semaphore. Now for the hose, the hole wants to become a lake.
Did mother call? The birds, the bees, the girl pretend they haven’t heard.
Doesn’t she know about digging holes? Some tasks can’t wait.


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The tree grew up overnight

crow pastiche

The tree grew up overnight, the first anyone knew
Was sunrise and passengers tumbling from cars gawking
At that tree, its lower branches wreathed in fog,
Its upper branches gathering the fog into
Towering clouds. Crow winged out of the sun, squawking,
And drove the dogs away from the tree,
And we danced, we danced down the sun and the fog,
We danced the concrete into dust, the dust into the sea.
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No rain that summer, my father said


No rain that summer, my father said, the grasshoppers’ song bringing
No relief among the dry weeds. Then the buffalo came like thunder,
My father said, they came like the flood
That follows rain. The hunters went out singing
In the cool before dawn, dark shapes going along under
A dark sky. My father said by the time they came back again,
The whites were heaps of bones beside their heaped goods,
And the grasshoppers were singing up the rain.


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Drinking the driven storm, the sturdy apple

Drinking the driven storm, the sturdy apple
Dances, between sky and earth, her spring-young leaves.
Knowing no purpose, knowing only season,
Her spring-young leaves, storm-driven, dapple
Earth and sky; all that my eye perceives
Dances. My eye drinks in the apple’s spring-
Young leaves, her dance that has no reason:
Only the storm, driving each dappled thing.


This poetic form is called san san, which means “three three” in Chinese (and is a term of art in the game Go). It rhymes as you see (a-b-c-a-b-d-c-d), and also repeats, three times, each of three terms or images; here, the driven storm; the spring-young leaves; the dance.

Here are a few more of these.


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