Category Archives: nature

Finally, She Could Not Love Him

He showed me a picture
he took of her
one long-ago July
as she crouched down
to marvel at the frogs,
small and green
and undisturbed
by the curiosity
that filled the afternoon
like sunshine.
It was the day they met,
he said—
and he didn’t know
there would be other days
they would meet
in the future—
days that were separated
by months, seasons.
He said she told him
things she didn’t have
anyone else to tell—
things that made him
the happy-enough life
he went home to—
things that made him
want to leave it behind.
And he wondered
if this woman
could ever love him
the way she loved
the man in her poems—
the poems he imagined
himself into—
and I asked him why
he’d never told me this
and he explained
it wasn’t until now
that he could say for sure
without breaking down
that the answer
to his unasked question
was no.





“Morning by the Stream” by T.C. Steele, 1893

The Botanist, Part II

When you walked outside
to examine the growth on the magnolias
we planted in my woods last year,
I was supposed to be starting dinner—
putting the water on to boil—
but I walked to the window and watched you
hover over the new leaves—
watched you kneel down to touch them gently
like one of the children we never had.
I knew you’d be leaving soon
after we ate the green beans and the rice
and the five bluegill we caught at Griffy Lake
so I needed to study you a little while longer
to let your image burn into a memory
I could take with me to bed or to work
or to this blank page
where I’ve always taken you, caged you—
This sacred and only place you’ve ever been





Painting by Isaac Levitan, 1880. “In the vicinity of the Savvino-Storozhevsky monastery”


Today the weather
is a grumpy neighbor
I’m trying to avoid
so I don’t get the mail
or disturb the wasps
trying to use the mailbox
as a place to make plans.
So far they are only annoyed
by the twice daily disruption—
first the delivery
then the gathering—
and not once have they
attacked or even moved.
They just appear there
each time I open the door—
never more than a handful
and never in the same spot
so I know they’re alive
inside their plump red bodies
that are like drops of blood
with long black wings—
something almost hideous
about the way they look
in the dark shadow of the box
because I know
what they could do
if their peaceful protest
turned into a riot—
and every day I expect them
to grow in numbers
which is why I have ready
a can full of killer
every time I reach in
to extract the stack of bills
that never includes
a handwritten letter
from a lost love
telling me something
that would cause my eyes
to water and sting.




Letting it Burn

Hours have passed—
just you and the fire
that needs you
to keep adding
and you oblige
first with small limbs
that have fallen in the winds
and then with the old lumber
leftover from your dream
that came true
and you were so careful
to rake away the dry leaves
leaving a center
a circle
that could contain a small sun
in your control
and you know there’s no limit
to what you could burn
but the thing you need
to turn to ash
is that fantasy of perfection
the one where you go home
one day
to find the man you’ve loved
for a very long time
waiting for you
as you walk
through the door.





This is the winter of my life—
cold, vacant, sad.
All those words that describe
sitting alongside
something otherwise beautiful,
otherwise full of obligations
I don’t mind.
But I keep finding stones
that asked to be picked up
and carried
in the pocket of my heart
and it’s hard to say no
to their beauty, their form,
to the way they feel inside my hand—
but they are accumulating
like snow drifting into my door
making it impossible
to leave, to exchange them
for something lighter, like love.







Last First Day

we made his bed
on the last day of the year
in a room in a house
that belonged to his friend
and the white sheets
spotted with wildflowers
would become the only garden
we would ever have a chance
to lie down in
because this country
wasn’t his home anymore
and the plane ticket
in his soft brown leather bag
couldn’t be exchanged
for a future in my arms–
where I held him
for five beautiful hours
before I had to give him up
to the years ahead
which would never include me.




“Lamia” by John William Waterhouse, 1905 (not the full painting)


Watching him
I imagine he is serious, intellectual—
too good-looking and well-dressed
to be a failure at anything.
And the laptop holding his focus
must contain a secret or two about his life
or maybe all of them are being corralled
into a memoir I’d pay a lot to read.
And the pensive brow
behind his thin rimmed glasses
makes me wonder if maybe
he’s typing a resignation letter
to his boss or to his lover or his wife
in which he’s apologizing
for the wasted time, for the years it took
to discover exactly what he didn’t want—
which might explain why he’s been here
in the lodge for days, alone,
speaking and looking at no one
except for me
when he asks if I can recommend a trail—
and because the woods are where I answer
all my own questions
I tell him any of them
will take him where he needs to go.





DeMaris Gaunt

“April Wind” by Andrew Wyeth, 1952