from Working Intently (A Sequence)
The Spout and the Chipmunk
Stinging nettles, bare patch,
bits of silica and mica catch
the water-light of birch crowns-
a place I favor for its solitude.
A year since last here by the creek,
I'd forgotten the stubborn spout rearing
up against the flowhow the creek
ignores it, rushing through the same
chute it's rushed through for how long?
A chipmunk on hindquarters paws a nut
turning it over and over, paying me
* * *
In Kang weighs
dripping wet. He bends
rigid pipe in ways bigger fellas
cannot. I've nicknamed him
wrassler and watch in amused
envy. It's all in the mind
he says. When we shoot
pool, In Kang runs rack after rack
and I never can beat him
unless something weighs on his mind.
Both parents surgeons, he considers himself
failed though he catches on quickly,
anything to do with his hands.
This morning before work,
he found me wrassling
my truck's funky relay-
no spark. He fixed it in minutes
laughing, the whole time
admiring my intentions.
Ode to Three Seasons
Count how often in fifteen seconds a male
cricket rubs one ridged wing against another.
Add forty degrees. You'll know the exact
heat of late summer love. Every season
Four winters ago, though balmy for New Year
she lit a fire. Frogs raised a ruckus by her pond.
Every new year since puts me by that fire. Every
season its surprise.
April's iridescent sun in its notch.
The aftermath's subsiding pulses. She, imagining
me asleep, herself unobserved, rubbed her neck,
Before dawn, therefore before
other crews pull up, even
my own; before the tailgate drops,
coiled cable, pipe and drills
scrape the truck bed, emerge and
unpack themselves; before the apron
slung from the waist is weighted:
fasteners, driver bits, meter and tape;
before conduit saddles obstacles
encountered, saws wind up to roar,
compressors kick in to hammer ear drums;
I rub my cricked neck, look across the cove.
A tanager whistles. Soft light swells
sharpening profiles of spruce on the ridge.