Selected Poems from Loon in Late November Water
LOON IN LATE NOVEMBER WATER
A loon throws up her wings,
then dives and disappears,
then surfaces again, almost beyond my sight.
I can’t see her blood-red eyes,
but she’s as white as the new-falling snow
and as black as the branches of the barren trees.
She swims so long and far beneath the waves
that I can’t recall where she vanished
or guess when or where she might rise again.
This is how writing poetry feels to me.
Some determined creature plunges underwater,
then rises to the surface,
then drops down deep, again—
a motion the animal in me embraces—
exploring rich, half-remembered places,
and then a bold resurfacing.
Now, as cold takes over the land
and the sky grows both lovely and dangerous,
I try to live like the loon, on the surface and below,
visible, then invisible, even to myself.
And this journey continues every living, dying moment
until the loon flies south for the winter.
But I never wait to watch her fly away.
Old friends are a steady spring rain,
or late summer sunshine edging into fall,
or frosted leaves along a snowy path—
a voice for all seasons saying, I know you.
The older I grow, the more I fear I’ll lose my old friends,
as if too many years have scrolled by
since the day we sprang forth, seeking each other.
Old friend, I knew you before we met.
I saw you at the window of my soul—
I heard you in the steady millstone of my heart
grinding grain for our daily bread.
You are sedimentary, rock-solid cousin earth,
where I stand firmly, astonished by your grace and truth.
And gratitude comes to me and says:
“Tell me anything, and I will listen.
Ask me anything, and I will answer you.”