Life With Horace

poetry & essays


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imagining dragonflies

walking under mid-March
flying clouds,
snow and ice,
still layered tightly
on this open wetland road,
there are soft murmurs,
not-still water
running under ice,
our continuo.
the great flow out
from unseen melt
is fleeing winter.

the half-warm sun
and gusting wind
of early spring
cannot erase the memory
of warmth and fecund life
held by my senses,
all riches here
to be regained
at nature’s pace,
not mine.

and so the dogs and I
tramp to the dam and back,
and dream
of summer pleasures
looming large,
imagining
the dragonflies.

__________________________________
on yesterday’s wetland walk my mind kept overlaying summer on what I was seein
g.


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tess

bright eyes watching
so much energy
open joy
loving creature
certain of the
care and patience
that surround her
born for running
and she does
leaping, bounding
through the trees
a blur of white
with red bandanna
sailing over
the high snow bank
at woods edge
unrestrained
but fast returning
to the simpler path
no hesitation
the voice of love
is calling

____________________
written during a visit to a friend in North Bennington, Vermont, where I finally got to meet her wonderful young Llewellin Setter, Tess.


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finding joy

in a redwood grove
the sun’s arm lights the ferny floor

in the company of beloved children
there is nonsense and wonder

in the winter marshland
there is texture more than color

in the midst of singing
the voices tell me stories

in the simple potent thing
there is splendor waiting for me

it feasts my eyes
and I am full of joy


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doors through grief

I stand on the beginning side of grief
not knowing what that opening will bring
but trusting in myself and my intent
certain that this journey must be made

god help me there is love still
a garment now worn thin
a sigh, an ache about my heart
it cannot bear to leave behind but must

I do have hope, and do have help
caring hands to clasp, and loving words
but only if I ask, reach out, show need
and swing this new door wide to let them through

today there were new portents in the sky
great wings of clouds that formed a goose
a sign, a love borne gift come from the past
to urge the leap of faith, to go fly free

it calls out trust your spirit, it will guide you
trust your strength it will not fail you
a new door opens, heart is thrumming
and I step through

____________________________________
I truly think the goose-shaped cloud was my spirit guide the day I saw it.


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the new path

while colors fade and drop
as browns and grays emerge
upright, leafless, spare
the sun is finding a new path
closed off before the change
this new light is a gift
an opening of space and beam
delights forgotten while
the world was green
there is the gold of larches in the marsh
a roof line now exposed, a barn
or field with open sightline to the hills
all these a balm to ease our journey
into winter, and the snow

_____________________________________
my cousin, the writer Jack Skow, gave me invaluable advice when I showed him this. not sure if I got it right since then, but I’m trying!


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my mood today

is reflective as I look
at the sunshine and light
that pour through my door
yearning for difference
no, demanding that change
from myself as I wrestle
with still hidden feelings

is hopeful as I write
looking forward to walking
and loving the marshland
with pure hearted dogs
connecting the life force
I see all around us
to my hopeful spirit


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a walk to the brown house

The dogs are stretched out at my feet as I sit with a view out the kitchen door. Evening rush hour is in full swing at the feeders, and the sounds the birds make are familiar and comforting. Even though I don’t count on the natural world to be consistent, my connection to it is.

Being outdoors refills my soul. It took me a long time to understand and accept this. Standing in the sun under our apple tree, I am aware of a mantle of joy that lands like a whisper on my shoulders. Out in the wetlands with the dogs, my bones hum from the rich life cycles being played out all around us. Even in winter the connection is still there, while the water world lies dormant, waiting for the days to lengthen. At times of profound spiritual need I have stood, arms and heart open to the skies and have never been disappointed.

Today I simply felt empty and depleted after a family gathering this weekend that asked much of us all. The urge to be outside and walk through the woods with the dogs was overpowering. So I drove to the start of a long-unused road, and took it over an arm of Gap Mountain, toward Fitzwilliam. This road is still traveled by hunters, bears, deer and the occasional wood poacher who comes by truck.

The dogs and I have walked this road many times, occasionally all the way over and back and always in solitude. It has its landmarks: the cross-over for the Gap Mountain trail, lots of old stone walls, a dark and cool Hemlock grove growing in the moisture of converging mountain run-offs. There is also a house. It is an old brown shingled cape, sitting below the arm’s crest at the top of a rough-mowed field. There is a rusted pump out front. It has electricity, which comes in along a summer road that ends there. It has a nice small barn, with glassless window’s eyes looking out through the woods at anyone approaching from the back, the direction we come from.

This place never looks lived in, but it is not falling apart either. It feels quite benign, not lonely, as if it knows what its place is in the scheme of things out there. I stopped in sight of the barn to give us all a drink before turning around and then Aggie went on alert with a woof. There were people there! How thrilling to know the house is indeed alive. I peeped around the trees and saw the storms propped open for fresh air. There was a gleam of blue metal, a car. The dogs and I simply turned around and padded back up the hill, into the quiet woods and the way home. Goodbye house, until next time.