Thursday, February 4, 2016

Brain Coral

Before it can be showtime
I have to get you into the steel frame
Expertly molded around your shape -
Delicate calcium carbonate

Inside, the prongs are lined with felt
To smooth the cradled surface of your weight
Tiny screws slide into place and
I tighten them slowly
Careful not to cause a break

Little bits of your surface
Rest like snowflakes inside the wooden crate
That goes from place to place
Traveling between continents
My job, unglamorous
To catalog, inspect, repair, if possible
The inevitable toll
Damage unavoidable in a cargo hold

You were not meant to fly but
To live in still ocean silence
Among the brackish algae
Little creatures sprouting from your pores
A mockery to put you on display -
A benefit to science
Paradoxical interplay

In San Diego I find larvae in your holes
Under the magnifier's scrutiny
I rush you to a freezer
To kill the invaders
To protect the other bones and skins
From life reconfigured inside their shells

I am a zookeeper of the dead
A wrangler of bones and stones
Tomorrow you'll be out in the open, marveled at
For all to see

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Cell Division

She points a stick at the blackboard.
It must have taken some time with
The colored chalk
To get it just right -
The structure of a cell,
The orange mitochondria floating
In a baby blue nucleus
In a bath of matter, a
Pool of programmed instructions:
     Make a brain, a heart
     Make me walk and talk
     Make us love

Hard to believe at the time, but
I listened, thinking
     Why does this matter?
     Why does this matter when
     Trees are dying
     Animals are starving
Why does a cell and a textbook matter at all?

These things all connect.

It took me years but I get it -
So many different kinds of cells
     The tangled nerve cells
     The rounded egg cells
     The long, narrow plant cells sucking chlorophyll -
It's all the same for each
Bark, skin, fur
I see it now, and it clicks, but
Not so viscerally as a finger
With its many types of cells,
But a vast plain and rocks to climb

I can stand up and get there, to the top of the mountain
I can get down to the dust,
There is a nucleus there, in the stone
Once born from a tiny shard of shell
A mollusk, perhaps, an ammonite -
Intelligent life, shadow of a cell.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Waking Up

I refuse to believe my
Most fertile time is behind me
The time of un-tethered words and
Ripe images

I refuse to believe
The apple tree has died and
Taken me down to the dry dust
The summer canyons
Exhaling their last vapors

I know there is more -
Another seed, another Spring
Another phase of creative generation
To blossom the possibility of
Awakened imagination.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Trail End

Fever-pitch footfalls
Come to a close at the base
Of a mountain.

We stop, drop
Our packs in the dirt,
Want nothing more than shelter.

Further above,
I sank down, believing
I could not go on.

You grabbed my shoulders,
Told me we would do it,
Get down and back home, so
I willingly walked in your footsteps.

I slid-scraped over rocks
Tripped over tree roots
The forest and mountain blurring,
Tangled knots of brown and green
Painting the relentless descent.

When we hit the lonely road
We collapsed together,
The sharp, heavy woods
Continuing on into darkness.


Our trail-selves retreat as
Dusk makes the colors pop,
Gritty gray and black.

The stiff silence of isolation
Forces us up again
Searching for signs of life.

A minivan approaches -
We get in, carried away,
Not looking back.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Widow's Walk

The ocean is like an onion peeled back.
She stands on the widow's walk
Counting the minutes before dawn
Stretching her vision to the far end
Of the horizon, where
The bloodied razor's edge of sun
Cuts the night open.

Each wave makes her cry,
Like the sting of the onion's tang
The smell of salt burned onto
Her mucous membranes.
She can taste the ocean water
With every inhalation
Until it seems she herself
Is the ship that bears her
Husband home,
Rocking and listing, aft and stern
Tipped up and ready to plunge down.

Kneeling on the cold winter porch
She finds her knees are wet
But her feet have not yet
Touched the shore.

-GSS 2013

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Bryant Pond

Wind ripples the glassy lake and sends
Lily pads rising and falling
A dead tree trunk lies immobile
In its permanent resting place
Once-crisp leaves moldering in the muck

A lone frog echoes its own call out
Across the silence from the other side
Where dark woods lead to abandoned camps
Their skeletal docks empty
Plastic kayaks tied up tight against the porches
Rafts stacked on shore for the long winter
The houses sit, unmoving
Water and trees constantly in motion
Tuneless songs riding out the seasons

A forgotten stone picnic table sits
Under a tall evergreen at
The empty boat launch on Rowe Hill Rd.
In my car, looking at the pond,
I wonder if I will miss this place
Its unforgiving solitude and
Beautiful, sweet air.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Reflections in a Window

Tonight the light from the lamp
Illuminates my naked body onto a
Backdrop of dusk
My breasts blend into the
Moist green grass of the
Yard beyond the house
Glowing and round and
Moving slightly as I breathe
As the grass flutters in the breeze

The curve of my waist merges with the
Straight line of the roof's edge
Soft belly and thighs with
Cold tar shingles
Warm tungsten skin radiates
This image of life onto
Cool, smudged glass
Hard as the granite that birthed it.