………..inspired by a Dan Murano photograph
I too have lost my leaves,
standing at the meadow’s edge,
half-covered by snow,
entirely deserted by crows,
glancing down to the younger trees,
lifting my arms to the sky,
striped in gray clouds and white light—
a light as opaque in its brightness
as the indecipherable future.
The Canoe Trip
The lake’s skin is smooth and taut
till the oar scissors the fabric
in a swirl of bubbles
and pushes the silver canoe,
sliding across the surface,
above the mussels and fish.
Fingers push against
the loved one’s taut foot,
loosing the muscles and flesh.
The fingers slide up
the calves and thighs,
seeking the cove and landing.
The pup tent’s put up
between the twin pines.
The campfire crackles to life.
The water for coffee
bubbles in the orange coals.
Marshmallows melt on broken-off sticks.
The dew on the grass in Audubon Park
fractures the morning sun into a white carpet
into which our shoes punch shadows.
Left, right, dark, bright, we go walking
across the golf course towards the bayou,
leaving a trail of oval wells in the glitter.
We used to hold hands when side by side,
but I would often walk too briskly,
and now I am lagging far behind.
The plastic hospital bracelet on my wrist,
the red, wiggly scar along my sternum,
the soreness in the ribs pushed aside,
I just want to get across without getting hit
by a slicing golf ball or low-hanging oak branch,
or splashing into a puddle hidden by tall grass.
I want to reach the chocolate water where
you’re already standing, surrounded by
snowy ibises with red-catheter beaks,
by whistling ducks with black-mohawk heads,
by a great blue heron folded up like a gown
in a valise and then unfolding into flight,
into a woman donning a blue-and-white dress
for a Cajun dance. She is standing at the edge
of the cypress-plank floor with outstretched hands,
asking me for one last waltz before the musicians
pack up and go home, and I step forward, leaving
dark ovals behind as I move toward the light.
A Cubist Observes a Songbird
The crest of the male cardinal
is a crimson triangle pressed
against the green line of damp pine.
The prow of the sailboat
is a white triangle set
above the scudding waves.
The nose of my love
is a pink triangle pointed
west at the kitchen window.
A spherical corona of sunset
causes the tail ends of her
white hair to catch fire.
When she drinks, her throat
billows and bows; her skin becomes
canvas caught in a westward wind.
She drains her glass of shiraz,
tilts her head back and laughs
the laugh of bells shaken in the wind.
Now her nose is the color and shape
of the cardinal’s crest, trembling,
in preparation for flight.
© Geoffrey Himes
Geoffrey Himes’s poetry has been published by December, the Delaware Poetry Review, Salt Lick, the Baltimore City Paper and other publications. He has co-written songs with Si Kahn, Walter Egan, Pete Kennedy, Billy Kemp, Fred Koller and others. He has written about popular music and theater for the Washington Post, New York Times, Rolling Stone, Smithsonian, Paste, Downbeat and others since 1977. His book on Bruce Springsteen, “Born in the U.S.A.,” was published in 2005.