Five Companions

By | 13 May 2024

1. Small spider

Next to the strawberries I am cutting on the kitchen counter
you step out
intent on exploring the world.
Gladly I leave you
your portion of the visible field
and the privacy of your millennial appetites.
                 Already the first day of summer
is carving a space large enough
for both of us.

2. Raindrops

I am wearing a necklace of raindrops, more judiciously
rounded than teardrops, moulded into shape
by the greater gravity of earth and the sky’s
overburdened need for equanimity.
                 And when I come back inside
raindrops linger for a while along the windows
to sign their disappearance with random streaks.
I cannot hold onto a single one of them
long enough to recite even a short prayer
for their death.
                 Gazed at for the moment of their being
they each have the perfection of utterances
the sky makes for the lowliest of creatures —
the slug, the ant, the caterpillar, the grasshopper
and for the outstretched hands of leaves
                 also waiting to fall.

3. What is lacking

As if assailed by doubt
water suddenly lost its ability to move.
It stares at us forlornly from the upper shelf of the refrigerator.

Addicted to my own thoughts,
unable to hold onto my own molecules,
I do not have the immortality of water.

4. My distant brother

Light, like water, is a strange creature.
                 Suddenly, when I thought the day could do nothing but steadily get colder, light appears, stepping beyond the trees that seem to block it to become a presence all along the front windows of my house. Then I notice it has already stepped inside and is now inhabiting a small oblong stripe on the wooden floor. A moment later it’s settled into a glittering half-presence that gently laps the patch of carpet at my feet.
                 Of all the creatures I know it is the one I least understand. I could call it wilful as so it seems to me, but it also strikes me as the most solemn of life’s companions though not without a distinct flair for playfulness.
                 And now it turns firm and resolute, holding the scratch marks and spiderwebs of my east-facing windows in a steady embrace. I think it must be the sole creature whose only instinct is to give. At the same time I am loath to talk about light too much. For fear my words might be judged ill-considered and it would turn its back on me forever. Yet, over and over, since my first days my heart rises to meet it. It surely knows I want to follow it. Somehow I trust that we are kin.

5. In a divided landscape

Three dreams cross the river
while a crow flies ahead to announce them.

                 Citizen of the dark earth
wading across a shimmering landscape
of moss and stone,
water creatures seek to enter you.
Already your belly is ballooning with shapes
that swim, wriggle and kick their way
through tangled memory-zones
of a life spent incubating
below the moon’s surface.

                 Tonight as you sleep
the dreams will gently guide your visitors
back to the margins of firm earth.
Suddenly free and extraordinarily alone,
where you will wake
the dreams will not tell you.


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