Almost, Through This Long Night


We have reached the point
where we can’t get through the night
without more news of fires.
This is what we say to each other
turning out the light, Our goodnight kiss
whispering, Chelan.
Chelan is on fire.

Jim Bodeen
18 August 2015


         —for Wes Hanson

Cool, clear morning, old song.
Stayed low in summer bag
beneath sunshine and sage.
Fall feel to things, finally,
circling. Sage, rock,
and bird song. Suiseki stones
under kitchen table,
the mothership a zendo
dreaming. Spokane River,
low and warm giving up
deep histories in river rock.

Walking off the grid
changes the eye, charging the eye,
bringing you closer
to William Blake.
Have you been with God
this morning, Grandfather?
A dozen small birds fly
into a small shrub
just beyond sage.
Sun higher on my cheek
since birds landed
entering water home.
Water too low, too warm
for fish. Some of what this day
has already given me
is failure to respond to beauty.
Walking with a man
carrying a sling
full of hand-made wooden flutes
on a quarter section of land
dedicated by law
to trust and preservation,
bone dry open to any passing match,
I’m accompanied by the listening power
of a camera with better ears
than mine, and an eye
beyond man’s capacity to comprehend,
a falcon’s eye in yarak.
Living like that for a morning,
trying and failing.
I walk with a man
who paints, whose water colors
activate the imagination,
who writes poems daily
wrapping himself
in a piece of hard scrabble land,
land that opens at Sliding Gate Road,
the mind itself born of a Williams poem.
The river I walked into
could not care less for the action above it
on a freeway of cement,
fueling commerce and apocalypse,
the fires themselves at this moment
jumping the great Columbia River.
This river, these pot holes,
my feet in this warm water
at its dangerously low level
granting me access to stones
not seen in anyone’s lifetime.
These stones with stories
of where they’ve been.
We guess what’s happened
and we’re not wrong.
They will appear again
in countless poems, in gardens.
I walk on them in sandals
balancing, off balance too,
turning them with my hands,
carrying the odd one
with me to the mothership
in cloud sky worship.
Already they have a place
in the great telling of morning.

Jim Bodeen
7 August—18 August 2015

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