Life With Horace

poetry & essays

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Imagining dragonflies

Walking under mid-March flying clouds,
snow still layered tightly on this wetland road,
there are soft murmurs, water running under ice,
the flow from unseen melt is fleeing winter.
A half-warm sun and gusting wind of early spring
cannot erase the memory of heat and fecund life,
riches here to be regained at nature’s pace, not mine.
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

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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
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 newer side
of grief not knowing what
that opening will bring
but trusting my intent certain
that this journey must be made
God help me there is still love
a garment long worn thin
I do have hope the gift
of help caring hands to clasp
many loving words
Mine only if I ask and
swing this new door
wide to admit them
Today new portents fly
the sky great cloud wings
that form a goose
A love borne gift
come from the past
to urge the leap of faith
to go fly free
It whispers trust your spirit
it will guide you
trust your strength
it will not fail you.
A new door opens
hope 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 finds 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 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, still not sure if I got it right since then.

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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.