Thursday, January 26, 2012

Fully Adam

Lying on the soft duff
A sprinkle of snow on the moss
Salal cushions the twigs
And hard earth.
Splayed towards the sky
Surrounded by firs
Watching trunks tower in parallel lines
Narrowing to a meeting point
Just beyond my view – infinity
Crowns spray like black fireworks
Thrown against the winter lemon sky

Wandering those paths in August
Leaning underneath the lacy branches
Of high huckleberry
Tart red berries tiny to the hands
Are collected in the pail
And musky salal berries
Stain the fingers
With their dark bitter fruit
Cast along with sharp
Mouth puckering Oregon grape
Whose lemon yellow sprigs
Herald late winter.
Wilderness berry jam
Brings the woods inside.

But often I think of lying
On the warm dirt path
With duff scuffed away to humus
And cedar roots exposed
Fungus in the air
Overwhelmed by the smell
Of pungent needles, sage and saxifrage.
I want to lie spread eagle down
And drink in the scent of earth

All are Eve open to the sky
And harvesting the woods
But she is fully Adam facing down to dirt
Embracing that return

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Through the cedar

I came to the bridge
You probably know it
Where the stream runs underneath
And tumbles down the rocks

I stood and looked down
At the manicured gardens
Filling the bowl
That used to be a quarry

But the bright colours
And the light voices
And the heavy scent
Of hyacinth rose

So I descended by the back way
Through the cedar
And found the light green blooms
Of hellebore in the shade

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Unknitting - For Susan

She had chosen the pattern with elaborate care
not the symmetric diamonds of the fairisle
but narrow nordic peaks
that reflected the high ridged mountains
where they lived together.

She had chosen the pattern with such care
because she was using the best yarn
long fibred yarn with a tight twist
firm rigid multi-ply strands
nubbly as it ran through her fingers

It is a good thing too
because you cannot unravel any old wool
you cannot take the soft short-fibred yarn
balled and fluffed and matted
each strand into another
and unravel that - it has become one
piece of felt.

But this wool was so strong that each strand
still retained its integrity.

So she sat down to unknit this sweater,
25 years later, the grey and the charcoal
and the natural off-white and black
diamonds and triangles interwoven
around the neck and chest and wrists.

First she turned the sweater inside out
and taking a pair of scissors
she cut the yarn of the hem on the collar
and carefully pulled out each sewn stitch
and uncurled the turned under ribbing

And setting aside that first crumpled thread
she searched for the last cast off stitch to undo first
and threaded that piece back through its final loop
and began to unknit the garment.

At first, she pulled from the end of the row
but slowly she got the hang of it
and lying the sweater flat
she pulled each row from the row before
and loosened the wool carefully

And let each length lie before her
in a pool of wool
and then when the pool was deep and
threatened to entangle itself again

She draped it over the chair and hung the grey
in long skeins ready to be washed
the black and charcoal and off-white
draped themselves in shorter lengths.

She unraveled the collar and the neck and the chest
down to the armpits
and then separated each piece out
the arms and the front and back.

The draped wool grew thick
and piled on top of itself
in loops of soft grey
until the last stitch of each last ribbing
had been detached from its next one.

And then she took the tight kinked wool and
lay it in the tub in a lukewarm bath
of slightly soapy water
and let it soak until each strand floated
free and straight and new

And she hung the wool over the rods and rails
and counter tops and towels
until it had dried it smooth loops.

She picked up an end and placed
it against her thumb
and started slowly to wind up the wool
around and around
creating a pull-from-the-centre ball
to be used again.

Tight it pulled against her thumb
and grew and grew
until she laid it down
and began another.

She wound the wool into balls
creating a separate ball for each colour
the charcoal and the black and off-white
became small balls of disconnected yarn
which she set aside to use for mending later.

The grey grew into a pile of firm round balls
tight-wound solid balls of wool
25 years old and ready to be reknit
as if it were new and had been shorn and spun
a few days ago.

But the soft smooth grey
with flecks of dark and light
was the colour of a low ceiling of cloud
on a Saturday morning.

It was the colour of pavement on a dull day
the colour of the walls
in the corridors of hospitals
at night when the lights are turned low
and eveyone has gone except for parents
of young children drinking their last cup
of coffee before they curl on a cot
in the corner of the room beside the bed
where the child lies breathing
you hope she is breathing.

But she took the wool anyway
and redeemed it
She had one pair of needles
and no pattern at all
eyes brimmed with tears
unfocused and unwilling

She cast on a row across and
began with seed stitch to lay the wool flat
and tried a row of twisted cables
then stocking stitch against pearl
in diamonds and squares
And rows of baubles and diamond cables
raised like bumps and welts
across the short rows.

It grew long and soft
folded in a loose heap on the floor
as she knit into the night.

And now she wraps the scarf
around her neck and runs her hands
over the texture of the wool
threading her fingers into each cable
and over each pattern
unplanned, unimagined rows of strength
and purpose - soft warmth.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Somebody's Son

We kissed our son goodbye.
We embraced and prayed
For God's care and blessing
As he set off for the Arctic.
Back from the oilfields,
And off again - to experience life.

The sun was brilliant and the air cold
Daffodils and periwinkle trimmed the path
So we walked down to the beach
Where lycra clad runners celebrate health
And fathers bring pails and shovels
Following their sons barefoot.

Families played baseball
Lasers raced across the surf
In the way of parasailers
Under multicoloured banners.
Dogs galloped through puddles
And tankers sat at anchor.

We rounded the point
And sat on a log
Taking in the dark mountains
Powdered with snow.
Ski trails reflected the sun
Sand stretched half a mile before us.

Washed up by last night's surf
In a tidepool six inches deep
He lay face down.
Water lapped on denim
And the breeze ruffled
Short brown hair.

Somebody's son.

March 18, 2006, Spanish Banks, Vancouver

Saturday, August 26, 2006


When I walk in the woods alone
I like to measure the distance
between myself and the next human being
in miles.

But the crunch of my boots on loose stones
joins with the rushing of the creek
and the wind and the bees and the sound of a plane cutting across the corner of the sky

To make a thousand voices
in my head
chattering, chiding
and calling my name.

So I stop walking
and the flies swirl away
and the wind dies down
and the voices in my head
turn back into the sound of water
running over rock.

Now I know that when I want to walk
In the wilderness alone
I must stand completely still
Or leave my head behind.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Before I came to write

I thought before I came to write
That words would be like rock.
You choose a piece and turn it
And heave it into place.

Each word must fit the rest
And suit the space and shape
Then each single solid word
Will be set
For posterity

Until a path is built
Both flat and smooth
Firm beneath the feet
And people will walk on it

But I found that words are like water
Running in the creek
You can dip your hands and cup your palms --
Or open your fingers and let the words run out
And rejoin the stream.

Soon with fingers dripping
And dipped again
Into the stream of language
Words coincide with thought
For brief moments
And become consumable.

I didn't know that words
were just water
Trapped momentarily
and then let go.

Forest Fire

I am stealing your fire
says the child
as she holds taper to taper
and wick to wick.
Take whatever you need
Burn full light to read, child.

Silence descends
and the night grows long.
The scent of smoke
wakens the light sleeper.

Bare feet cross the floor
out the door and down the steps
over gravel and stone to the lake
where black water beats against the rocks.

A stream of blood red
Thrown by the hand of Mars
Stains the surface
From the far shore to my feet.

A crimson ribbon
of reflected light
shines on each black ripple.

I turn my face to the sky
No sunrise tints the east
No moon hangs overhead.

On the distant mountainside trees candle
Flames flare from stem to crown
And spread from wick to wick.
Unbind Prometheus and ask who gave fire to Zeus.

Email to a friend

Words labour like ants
Across the white space
Carrying their burden of sense
Recording events chosen like fallen crumbs.

The japonica flowers in the window,
Our neighbour had her baby.
This play was seen
And that book read.

Stories ring with laughter
And details sound the rhythm of routine
But you read what is not written
And know that silence is the trumpet of my mind.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Editorial and Comments

The first two stories in this blog are true stories, written with the consent of the main characters. The rest are works of fiction, with entirely fictitious characters, although based remotely on events that may have happened to someone at some time.

The stories come with this disclaimer.

This is a work of fiction, a product of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

The one story that is ongoing may or may not be updated regularly. My apologies but this is a recreational blog.

If you wish to comment, please comment at the bottom of this post.