Return

The monarch winters in Mexico
After its autumn flight south from Canada and the upper States.

It takes three generations to fly north again, but they know the way.
Three journeys, three deaths, three births—
Before the fourth generation, born in the north, at the end of summer,

Makes its way along the belly of the world
To gather in ever-larger clouds of shimmering orange

And settle on the butterfly trees.

Milkweed at Lake Moreau, 2016

Milkweed at Lake Moreau, 2016

Ugly Duckling

Now I float upon the cool water,
My webbed feet gently keeping me true
As I breathe and come to.

Here I am upon the calm water~
The ungraceful dance,
Frantic footwork to be what I am not,
Is over.

In the distance swans take flight~
Recognition leaps in my heart
And my wings give a sympathetic shake.

Now, here, I am what I am.
My webbed feet paddle the cool water,
Moving me forward, swift and sure

Until yearning meets with knowing,
And I unfold large, beautiful wings
That carry the drumming of my heart
Across the years and vast deserts I have traveled.

In a moment,
Through a flurry of sun-kissed water,
I am airborne,
Flying to meet my mates.

Sherman

Sherman Treebeard

Waking

The fear of letting go sits on me like a yoke.
Head bowed forward I pull
The weight of our history through the earth;

Roots snap, rich soil is laid bare,
Exposed to seed it cannot refuse.

But my glazed eyes come alive again,
And again.

I see the world;
I breathe its scent into my nostrils—
It flowers in my brain, opens my heart.

And the yoke, it is a fly on my skin.
I twitch a muscle and it takes off, lands again.

All the while the world is there.
(All the while the world is there.)

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La Llorona

Deep in the black velvet ooze
At the bottom of the saltwater cavern,
I found her weeping for her children.

Her weeping makes her monstrous.

Mothers warn their young ones away
And secretly worry
about where choices have led them–
About the salt in their blood.

I see her

Raw fingers raking the sludge,
so long from giving love.
My hands ache and sweat;
I taste my death but cannot look away.

Her hollow eyes focus on me and the time is fulfilled.

I kneel in front of her,
Take her hands to my breast,
And kiss her wide mouth long and full.

Ugly Duckling

Now I float upon the cool water,
My webbed feet gently keeping me true
As I breathe and come to.

Here I am upon the calm water~
The ungraceful dance,
Frantic footwork to be what I am not,
Is over.

In the distance swans take flight:
Recognition leaps in my heart
And my wings give a sympathetic shake.

Now, here, I am what I am.
My webbed feet paddle the cool water,
Moving me forward, swift and sure

Until yearning meets with knowing,
And I unfold large, beautiful wings
That carry the drumming of my heart
Across the years and vast deserts I have traveled.

In a moment,
Through a flurry of sun-kissed water,
I am airborne,
Flying to meet my mates.