Sunday, January 29, 2017

old trails fresh snow: embedded poetry

The river flows rich dark brown dark and rising
fooled by a semblance of spring
a wide foreboding and welcoming spring
that vanished
and josie and i tumble along the river
following an old path renewed
in the softening
that i realized held dangers
but josie insisted
more fleet-foot than i
so i gave in as much as i could
while retaining my wisdom
and yesterday in snowshoes
caught up in branches
in that tricky spot downslope
and the branches they congregate
there at the bottom
and once in a while
trip me up
so i went kerplunk and forward
face down in the snow heading downbank
with a belly flop
and snowshoes flying up behind me
making a cross
and i’m pretty sure it was all cartoon-like
so i must be ok and got up
and josie, ahead, stopped, looked back, and
i pretended he was concerned / i waved and shouted
“i’m ok! i am okay!” and so traveled on, trailing behind,
like always, like always, thinking about the poem
Ode to Solitude
Alexander Pope, 1688-1744

Happy the man, whose wish and care
   A few paternal acres bound,
Content to breathe his native air,
                            In his own ground.

Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread,
   Whose flocks supply him with attire,
Whose trees in summer yield him shade,
                            In winter fire.

Blest, who can unconcernedly find
   Hours, days, and years slide soft away,
In health of body, peace of mind,
                            Quiet by day,

Sound sleep by night; study and ease,
   Together mixed; sweet recreation;
And innocence, which most does please,
                            With meditation.

Thus let me live, unseen, unknown;
   Thus unlamented let me die;
Steal from the world, and not a stone
                            Tell where I lie.

as it is the poem my mother said could be read
at a memorial service
if there were a memorial service
and that was ok with her that there be a service and maybe,
if we wanted,
we could sing something like “summertime” and read
“ode to solitude”
and the poem kind of surprised me that this
is what my mother said was ok and not, say,
   the owl and the pussycat went to sea
   in a beautiful pea-green boat

which i’ve heard is the last poem
she responded to, gave a cackle at,
not long before she died.
Not a bad way to go.

Now temperature reclaims its wintry rights and
crust of snow withstands average weight of 150
pounds or more per square foot (or thereabouts)
josie, weighing 18, zigs and zags, curlicues, backtracks,
surges ahead at will at
behest of scent, mind, whim, fiddle-faddle.

The sun shines. For a moment.

I mince along the icy terrain with no such freedom
following his tracks, as always, as always,
his tracks like japanese etchings in a quarter-inch of
snow, fresh, whitewashing the old impressions of
sunken hooves, piles of scat, as if whitewashing
the crust of days, as if this were a different day
and one could erase
sail away
try again.