Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Poems from Sweden


The wind howled off the gray sea
in the dim light before dawn:
an autumn wind, from the east,
from Russia, from the step lands,
from the Caucus mountains,
cold and raw. The sea stretched
into a low line of dark clouds,
while the first sign of day shown to the south
on the tops of bonnets of mounting clouds,
warm and gold and reminding me of God.
Suddenly, from the south, came huge sea birds
pumping wide wings, distant and dark,
silhouetted against the wind-ruffled sea.
I watched carefully, thinking they must be geese,
but the porcelain beauty of their bearing
and the graceful turn of the lead bird’s neck,
and the snowy coldness of their feathers
revealed three wild swans in whose presence
I stood amazed, my mouth open
as they flew by in slow, surreal motion,
so close my heart touched
the cool demeanor, aloofness,
and regal distain of their freedom.
And I thought of a beautiful woman
who has wept all week, feeling her
fear of the sun, of human hands,
and open mouths, and suckling need.
I could not wait for the dawn. The cold drove me home
to warm my hands over a morning fire
in a small, empty room.


The skies are electric, and hanging so huge
they threaten to fall and crush me
into the earth. Thick, juicy rainbows
hang down regularly, like fingers of God
dipped in colors pressed from wild flowers
in warm meadows to the south.
This is my first sunset on the eastern shore.
The sky is purple and burnt sienna
and dusty gold like wallpaper in a classy salon.
The cold sea turns violet, with riffles of dark
wind-ruffled shadows.
Gray clouds curl like decorations on Greek pillars,
their bellies raw and red, rouged and rubbed,
loosing their gray veils of mist
enwrapping two rainbows, running down like liquid color
into the color-filled sea.
Minutes after the dropped sun extinguished the show,
the full moon arose like a radiant face,
open and pale, rising from the darkening sea
like an innocent woman, a virgin, softened
by the ecstasy of just loving her.


The gray swan rests her tired head on the ice
and closes her eyes to the snowy wind.
Something warm is glowing deep within her feathers.
Quietly, something like a small bone breaks in her heart.
Stirred by the pain, for a moment she opens her eyes,
and they shine like light in the ice.
Wings open just above her body
and she feels the old rise of freedom.
Slowly, her eyes darken
and are covered with snow.