A welcome weekend at Cedar Key,
relaxing on the dock;
pelicans wait poker-faced
for bait fish we may leave behind.
Bob away, line, while I watch the sun
going back to water.
That old tree in my yard is dying;
this may be its final year to bloom.
Does it realize its glory?
Does it treasure those last buds?
I have perhaps already known
the day that I should remember.
Bark on the oak in the backyard
has scars over my scars;
ladder steps lead nowhere now,
swing rope has furrowed the old branch.
How strong it makes us for a while,
the world we make, before it goes.
I pick up a tattered broom
to sweep leaves off autumn's patio;
When I was a boy I straddled
its handle for my horse.
Now that no one is looking,
what the hell. . . Hi-Yo, Silver!
A lone stallion stands fetlock high
in the hilltops green meadow;
He tosses his forelock when deisels blare
on the faint highway;
I lower my head because I'll soon
be going where they go.
Mama, mama, where do I find
the colors for the rainbow?
cries the small bored voice
whiling away a rainy afternoon.
In the corners of your mind, my child,
then pour them through your fingers.
It's a wood-framed hole in the water,
but he calls it a boat;
he guides its roar and rudder
through marshes to quiet pools.
wakened fish, with easy glides,
avoid his indifferent hook.
Eager to please, craving success,
she was drawn to the city;
she learned quickly from those willing
to turn over a new page:
Early to bed, and you'll meet
everyone in Washington.
Dusk shrinks the yard, then our porch,
fireflies light their way to mating;
Crickets still echo the old songs
you hummed when you were here;
Our porch has a new bulb, but the switch
that brings light brings shadow.
August air hangs heavily
over the K-Mart parking lot;
circling so far inland today,
sea gulls search careless leavings;
Blackbirds protest the invasion
From their concrete-island tree.
The royal flamingo, if it must,
eats the muck it walks on,
the sedge wren builds a dummy nest
to draw the hawk from hatchlings.
I summon them here, but my lines
are not the stuff they feed on.
Astronomers call it conjunction: Venus approaching Mars,
the illusion of closeness a matter of relative space.
Just so, orbiting man and woman seem sometimes to agree.
Solve et coagula, he declared, dissolve and combine,
confident of his alchemy in the face of daunting odds.
He knew what poets learn: choice is our first and final talent.