Life With Horace

poetry & essays


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meringue

crunch under
my steps
over ersatz
spread snow
replenish
the feeder
cast seed
for the crew
doves hogging
the bounty
let others
go hang
this fool’s day
with icing
starts off
with a bang

_________________________
NaPoWriMo 2017 day 1! We’re off to the races, rabbit rabbit rabbit. This was a fun prompt since I’m not much for rhyme, but it always comes (slowly) if given some time.


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foreglow

the old moon sliver
hangs branch framed
in white pine pins
and looking out to scout the day
I know the birds will fly in soon
to perch and wait
for signals from some
fulcrum’s tip
then swoop to take their food
but now there is no color
in the rising sky
the light shape cold
and wrong
time almost shrunk
and hope waned with it
until a shoulder glance behind
reveals a spreading rose
across the pond and to the west
a foreglow gift of elder mornings
stoking up the sky


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first morning

the world is wearing snow
and early morning tracks
curve down from thicket
to the brook
imagination wishing fox
resigned to squirrel
doves and jays arrive
the platform feeder full
it took a while to lace
warm boots with pjs tucked
then clearing step and path
of weightless white
which even now begins
to fly from coated trees
as spoil sport winds
step up their game
a dove remains
breast puffed among the seeds
they gobble down so much
but do not stay
to crack and eat
(anticipating husk heaps
deep in the woods
come thaw or spring)
a friend is coming soon
to break new trail with us
ecstatic dogs and
snowshoes joining evidence
of daybreak journeys
annotating
this first morning

Copyright©2016 Kate Rantilla, all rights reserved.


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the sound that quiet makes

this day of gratitude
is warm
wrapped with a hush
across the wild place
outside my door
hours lived at stop action pace
intermixed with grace note quiet moments
two horses graze across the road
jay scrabbles punctuating feeder flights
cars mostly absent never missed
trees almost bared
their shapes old friends
I look out to woods and placid beaver ponds
where birds flicker as small animals move
darting in counterpoint to anchored brown
such richness.
such richness in this temporary state
layerings of memory and love
not quite speaking underneath the flow
from earth to foot to heart
gravity confounded by life
flowing to the sky
and thanks are offered up


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long shadow morning

the day starts clear
and weather sits the fence
undecided voter between
sultry and first frost
the hummingbirds have gone
and small flocks pulse
from ground to tree to air
some landing in the shelter
of my apple tree
across the road bright reds
appear to punctuate
short timer green
the usual pangs are there
as warmth and light
begin to turn away
but less robust somehow
each summer moment’s heat
soaked into bone and soul
defense against regret

_______________________________
for me seasonal change has always been about being observant, and the aggregation of small events. september has a clear, long slanting light. my favorite month.


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witness

morning light slants through spring woods
and the grass grows green again

three blue bags of roadside trash
and the grass grows green again

air is soft at dark’s approach
and the grass grows green again

screams of trees ripped from the earth
and the grass grows green again

early birdsong noisy joy
and the grass grows green again

news of rising hate brings dread
and the grass grows green again

summer stars the hunter gone
and the grass grows green again

prayers whispered for the world
and the grass grows green again

truth is not a skin we shed
and the grass grows green again

______________________________
Day 26. A call and response poem.


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pole stars

outside an open window
long slanting bones of morning light
stretch out across new green
and under petal floats
my mind’s eye leaping past
advancing spring
to still brown woods
snowdrops hanging white in quiet
broken only by the calls of jays
or arcing cardinal voice
I ache for home
those starker hills
and life lived on a wilder scale
with brook flow ambient song
in counterpoint
to raven growls and beaver slaps,
the shouting silence of the stars
that touch my trees
small-hours communion with the moon
cupped softly by the dark,
my homeward journey’s pull is strong
yet it will still be hard to leave
a house so filled with love
and people of my bones,
twin pole stars
anchoring the heart

______________________________________
I love and miss my adult children and their respective clans and look forward to the chance to share their lives. Yet after a day or two the siren call of home begins its chant, and I am torn, no less grateful for these gifts.


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on approach to lighting a tree

The Whites are singing the morning awake today, as the dogs get fed, as I make some tea and watch things busy up out the window over the kitchen sink. Today I am grateful, as always, to see another sunrise, listening to music, in a place that I love deeply. Writing is on my mind this morning, I have had little time or energy for it this week, and it feels luxurious to anticipate the smooth feel of my pen on paper.

Day by day the house is looking a little more Christmas-ish. Favorite memory rich things bringing light and color to December’s squeezing down days. I am riding a wave of work that began the day after Thanksgiving and won’t quit until just before Christmas. It leaves my thoughts dim and cloudy in transition each night, muffled by tiredness., unless there is music to open my heart’s inner ear and let feelings out to air.

Happily this time of year is rich that way. Wednesday night found me singing with the Fitzwilliam Occasional Singers, rehearsing for Sunday afternoon’s tree lighting on the Common. Roughly fifteen of us, friends and fellow singers, gather every year to do this, and my city emigre heart is glad to sing again in a small village, and be part of a gift to the children and families of Fitzwilliam.

It will be full dark as we walk over from the church, just before five. The village windows glowing with candle lights. The tree waiting, unlit. Bustle. Portable lights get turned on. People begin to arrive, drifting into the glow from the recesses of the Common. Children sit on the ground in front, a wide crescent of small bundled up figures and smiling faces. It will be cold (but not as cold as last year, when Deb’s accordion froze up and we had to sing a cappella).

And then we will begin. Walden reading A Visit From St. Nicholas (The Night Before Christmas), Bill leading us through the carols we rehearsed, accompanied by Deb on her accordion. Then a carol sing for everyone (first verses only, and lots of laughter for Rudolph). At last Santa will roll in on the Fitzwilliam Fire Truck to light the tree, and talk to the children.

After there will be hot cocoa (so good in the cold) and home made cookies, while folks visit, then slowly disperse as the evening’s trappings are loaded into cars and trucks, along with us. Dark and quiet will settle on the Common again, except for the tree, its shining presence standing sentry until the new year.

 


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in flux

great movement has begun once more
with snow’s retreat into the ground
and sun’s advance up to its peak

we look out into woods or over lawns
and see a constant ebb and flow
of birds now grounded, searching food

the leavened earth is pushing up
its sleepy winter denizens in search of warmth
to meet bright eyes and hungry beaks

our feathered corps is swelling once again,
as winter stalwarts joined by brighter guests
begin to dance the minuet of spring

____________________

poem © 2014 KH Rantilla. all rights reserved.


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sure signs despite appearances

We all know what yesterday was, and for most of us in the upper tiers of North America it was just a date.

But, there have been signs. More than one. Different signs, unexpected and joyous. Spring is en route here. Emerging at glacial pace after a winter that brought stoic New Hampshire yankees to the point of actual complaint.

The turkey buzzards are back. Really turkey vultures, but down in DC they were buzzards. I like that better. Circling singly and in whirling vortexes.

I’ve heard red wing blackbirds twice, once in my own yard.

Speaking of which, it is beginning to show mud. Longing for mud season. Just this year, mind you.

Bird song in the early morning is loud, and full and sweet, their spring calls.

There is more flowing water than ice or snow on our own Fassett Brook. The dark shape of the Brook is emerging from the snow in the woods behind us.

On a walk yesterday there was a bug creeping across the snow in front of me, when I happened to glance down. No idea what it was. Small and spindly, it crept along, and I imagined it muttering to itself about the snow.

And last of all, somewhat incongruous to me, I saw a male ring necked pheasant. First sighting up here for me ever. Coming home on Mountain Road, on the last climb up before the Old Toll Road trail. On the side of the road, looking a bit confused about getting back up the bank, to safety. Hope it didn’t become Creamed Pheasant, if you get my drift. It’s a busy road.

It’s definitely coming. Just very very slowly.