from ‘starboard blueboard’


a boy woke suddenly one midnight long ago.  he felt the bed holding him rocking the way his patched old garvey rocked on the bay, or was it a slower, bigger rolling, the one he felt out beyond the breakers, where he went for the peace to be found there.

in the pale moonlight he wrote these verses on the first blank page he found in his notebook

in this still darkness
a sudden unexpected
scent of ocean salt
no holding back then    these waves
let them take me    out     to         sea

the nest found

the nest found

lying in the grass it seemed
at first nothing but a ball
of grass and birch bark white
somehow gathered collected rolled
together but of course such things
do they often happen without help
and this not happenstance but
a nest fallen woven with care with
if it’s not bold to say love and hope
a nest for eggs for lives to begin
and grow and even such a one as this
delicate and soft and now lost 
to all but me for what it still 
may hold I will not let it go

egret taking wing


Is it the effort floats the grace
Not like the muttering mallards
who share the marsh pool
with the white —
Them — they open their wings
open and beating they’re gone
the water the morning left behind
But you — how your legs
flex — how you longnecked
draw arrowhead back
as though to strike —
how your wings open feathers
how spread all whiteness
white even in the brown
the water that would hold you fast —
All wings and legs — white
White altogether too white to be
as all together
all at once
yet slow
your legs push to straight
your neck releases arrowhead
skyward as your wings
your white wings gather
the instant —
And slow — air — breath — vision —
yes even the seeing slow as your wings
slow stroke by stroke
against the songfilled air
lift you O to flight —
Effort — yes slowed to visibility
that we should know
how grace is gained

green-winged teals

Not hiding but almost
hidden among the reeds
slender and brown
around the edge
where marsh gives way
to water — gray —
dull — the day drowsy
gray too the one — his body
though not dull — alive
his blackeyed head brown
banded green as spring
The other
a bit of earth of soil — ripe

These two the only birds
yet — disinterested they seem
one to the other
her dabbling while he
heedless — modest —
as though needing nothing
more than his own grace

Then suddenly Sun
bursts through clouds
in downpour — enchanting
in an instant
this secret pond this pair
who kept so quiet there — unseen

They must feel it — the light
all around alive — for they rise —
together rise modesty cast aside
on wings aflutter —
careless — sunsoaked —
And there in motion bared
their secret their bond
the spread of feathers shared —
numinous — O green

It’s an instant only —
Clouds close fast
veiling sun — wings close too
modest —
and calm again
all around life quiets —

These two —
teals —
They work the marshedge
as though once again
separate —
indifferent —
mere dabblers —
As though once beheld
that green — theirs
could be unseen


Look — two swans white
pass close to shore
White as mountain peaks
White as snow
As sunbloom cloud
everblossoming in blue
White as the distance between

Silent and still they pass
Necks eloquent in their curve
and the lush white fullness
of bodies held chaste
Ecstatic behind featherblade wings

O they pass but motionless
Water sky and all
the world it is
that moves by them
Their serenity white
ecstasy still and silent

They pass unmoving — two
but in reflection
one in the other — one
which is neither one nor two
but a stillness white
a holding mute on the water

Watch — they don’t take wing
already beyond reach of all
but the flight of longing
that would have them simply beautiful
Look — they pass
Yet see how still they remain


How is it lying in the quiet
the room dark and still but for breath
yours — mine — slipping between dream
the deep and waking — that breaking
the surface — that meeting — a dark little duck
whitecheeked and small waveformed body —
rises — feathers waterjeweled
lit as by sun by stars or moon
each alight she tosses her head back
and rises wings aflutter to webbed feet
finding footing on the ceaseless wavelets
beak moving joyful her song laughter
in the still room as she casts off
the gems that clutter her wings her tail
her little rounded breast — until
unencumbered by anything not her —
she settles back quiet into water and herself

O to be that dark bay swell
breathing tidewise in the quiet room
and let her dive in deep as she will

Heron in reflection


To be in exile wolfed
in his own world
The water black
him there reflected
Shoulders hunched head
drawn in — eyes yellow
gold rings wide watching
and yellow beak drawn
unsheathed in chill gray day

In the cold the gray the dark
reflection on the stillness
the water
he watches unmoving
watches a wolf himself
gold ring eyes yellow blade
drawn ready
for a sun to enflame
Ready in the gray
for the great blue to be

brant in winter


no mistake
wavecurve breast
and wings open
spread against the air

Grace herself
untethered unmoving
Her sunlit feathers
catch the still
the frigid brittle air

She lets it hold her
Lets it O gently
release her
modest magnificence
as motionless
she descends
as if nothing more
than feathers bones flesh

As if
just a bird
coming to earth