Harold Rhenisch

This earth is not solid ground.
This swell of black water an hour before dawn
is the mind and body twisted
through the gate of grass. Pollen drifts off the poplars.
On all the edges of all the rivers
and the puddles of still water mirroring the voice of the sky,
the sky burns, yellow. My skin is cool with late snow,
drifting at 5,000 feet,
settling only as a taste of wet cold.

All night I sat among the peach trees
in the starlight, lighting smudge pots
to drive the frost from the mixed cold
of smoke and perfume. Now my hands smell
of diesel oil. It wonąt wash out. This
is the form I have brought back from the night ‹
a form that calls forth the world but has none
of the world within itself: a jazz riff,
shrill electronic music, the haunting transmutations
of the song of birds. In this shimmering
world of forms, light is glimpsed outside of vision ‹
the algebra of incompletion.

All night the wind blew through the valley.
Now, the cold, owl-feather stars
fly above the troughs of the mountains.
Peach trees stand in that gravel, rooted,
unable to move, as the cold sweeps over them
out of the high country of the Nickle Plate.
A few hours ago, the night thickened on the benchland.
One by one I bent to the tin pots of diesel
with a match, leaving a line of orange fires
behind me. Nothing more.

I sit before my window
over a cup of alfalfa tea,
to warm myself. Mauve and leaf-wilted light
flickers on the ridges. I have not
thought of words all night,
but I think of them now: day by day, year by year,
I have been moving into the structures of the earth,
until now in the vast
sub-atomic distances between one word and the next,
the raw wind blows off the snowfields of Apex Mountain,
smelling of granite and steel and stars.
Just inches from me the first wind of the world
rattles the glass in my windows. Tonight I will pour diesel
again into the black smudge pots
in the blue of dusk, and as the shadows sink down
then vanish into the soil
I will wait again among the prunings
and the first purple shoots of the grass
for the cold. And the cold will come.

I think I got it all wrong with space and time,
with mallow leaves and scorpions,
with mountain bluebirds
resting for two hours in the spring apple trees
then evaporating into the hot winds
on Haystack and on Granite Mountain:
time is this earth. As I stand before the bedroom window,
before closing the curtain, the skies tower over me, huge,
like the eye of the sea, in the clear, shadowless light,
in the hours of dark inky shadows
and a low fire burning along the horizon,
a yogic mantra for slowing down the breath,
an exultation.

The East Village Poetry Web