Dear in January,
on the hush path nestled
beneath pine trees over the valley
in the snow after the sun and six cattle guards,
I called your name through a forest
of context, similar worlds to tread beyond.
Marble, I spoke—laughed.
Marvin, Marvin. Nod. Marvin.
How often do I recall my stumbling
prophecy? That I in frozen dirt-clod mouth would mix
my old love and fresh yarrow called you?
What want rebirthed us unguilty?
Heads of teasel thistles crushed beneath banks of Oregon snow?
I know that cougars shift in silhouette,
that Pleiades appear nearer to crescents of hills.
Is distance of any consequence
when wrists can’t kiss—I mean to say,
If there is
an inch or a heaven or a teasel
between, lack is lack is lack.
My lips were chapped by wind.
Dear from Wisconsin,
your boots unlike mine, adept in the snow,
I came from Texas, only knew nude feet
flat sheets of landlessness.
I slid and slid down the sloping path
night so bright in the whiteness of everything downward.
Our town, La Grande, a fallen Christmas
tree, twinkled the valley below.
If hadn’t been for your palm at my elbow,
I would have made it down anyways.
But the memory’s made sweeter by detail.
Dear in Spring on your day now,
I’ve hiked without you many miles
seen the warm blood of an elk
melt snow, sat alone
under our magic night’s pine.
I felt first pains of birth between gates one and two:
that steepest slope where snowmelt expands,
runs deep in spring and wheel ruts,
where the russet mare in fall still waits,
will always wait, for our apples.
What I am whispering
Now (full and far) is distance
of pine tops: Pleiades is dark.
I number wrists and lips on fingers
mouth: memory, possibility, safety
is always, was always too distant.
Can it be that long suffering is waste?
The pines of night sorrow my solace
are coning in joy.