Poem by Howard Pugh, copyright 2012
Out of the pulsing stream that glistens to fiery white, tormented
as it races down grassy shoulders towards anonymity of the lake,
Out of the heavy scent of pine that spills bright into tired lungs:
resin of forest memories, dark and brooding, spirit of menthol
percolating deep into muscle and vein, seeking like the meaning-
starved masses those quarries of old religion, veiled and mythic,
the bones washed clean like brook-stones at the confluence
the bones picked clean beneath cobwebs in a desert wash.
This sacred place of meeting,
this bleached-white locus,
holding me taut in its ancestral ribbons:
we are bound here you and I,
long have we exchanged vows –
in the egress of our tunneled birth:
we were forged in primordial trust,
before words came into regard,
before our minds were lit,
before the dialects of birdsong and howling:
our ancestors’ eyes came up just the same,
across the great horizon
like Venus and Jupiter, and still do.
The eyes of our race filling a
thousand rooms of memory like popcorn,
revolving over us in slow, silent care:
cooked seed that still holds the germs of longing.
behind the careful ferns and lonely stand of trees,
here, off the trail, down gullies and beds,
beneath the canopy of eternal decisions,
between bright needles of the pinioned sun,
under every frond where the poised shadows lay:
a song cantillates, never resting, always changing, yet
soft, like the flutter of a candle …
Secret talks between predator and prey
are taking place, everywhere.
Calmly, like the slow rituals of courtship,
quite equal, between large and the small:
they dovetail with petty visions of perfection
into a cumbersome reality:
laying plans for the wedding and feast.