Echo of the clocktower, footstep
in the alleyway, sweep
of the wind sifting the leaves.
Jeweller of the spiderweb, connoisseur
of autumn's opulence, blade
harvesting the sky.
Keeper of the small
of entrances and exits, midnight
whisper travelling the wires.
Seducer, healer, deity or thief,
I will see you soon enough-
in the shadow of the rainfall,
in the brief violet darkening a sunset-
but until then I pray watch
as a mountain guards its covert ore
the harsh falcon its flightless young.
Planting a Sequoia
All afternoon my brothers and I have worked in the orchard,
Digging this hole, laying you into it, carefully
packing the soil.
Rain blackened the horizon, but cold winds kept it over the Pacific,
And the sky above us stayed
the dull gray
Of an old year coming to an end.
Sicily a father plants a tree to celebrate his first son's birth-
An olive or a fig tree-a sign that the earth has one
more life to bear.
I would have done the same, proudly laying new stock into my father's orchard,
A green sapling rising among the twisted apple boughs,
A promise of new
fruit in other autumns.
But today we kneel in the cold
planting you, our native giant,
Defying the practical custom of our fathers,
Wrapping in your roots a lock of hair,
a piece of an infant's birth cord,
All that remains above earth of a first-born son,
A few stray atoms brought back
to the elements.
We will give you what we can-our labor
and our soil,
Water drawn from the earth when the skies fail,
Nights scented with the ocean fog, days softened by
the circuit of bees.
We plant you in the corner of the grove, bathed in western light,
A slender shoot against the
And when our family is no more, all of his unborn
Every niece and nephew scattered, the house torn down,
His mother's beauty ashes in the air,
want you to stand among strangers, all young and ephemeral to you,
Silently keeping the secret of your birth.
-from The Gods of Winter