AUTUMN POEMS TO PLATERO*
Have you noticed, Platero,
how the monarch butterflies
come to rest upon the leaves
only when they have fallen
from the branch–
only when their color
has come to be, at last,
the color of the butterflies’
own dark-orange wings?
Platero, what can I write today?
The red leaves against the blue sky
are their own poem.
Do you know the point, Platero,
at which leaves become flames?
I have been watching this tree for months now.
I have watched its leaves lose green
to discover gold,
I have seen red and orange colors appear among the branches
like exotic birds,
I have watched the tree begin to draw the light to itself,
leaving the sky bereft and grey,
that the sun might cease to be a single star
and come to be a thousand candles in its leaves,
and now, Platero, just today, I saw the tree
and it seemed to me to blaze with new blossoms:
flowers of fire.
*Platero (whose name means “silversmith” in Spanish) is the silver-grey Andalusian donkey to whom the Spanish poet Juan Ramón Jiménez addresses the prose poems in his book, Platero y yo.
SOMETIMES IN THE VERY LATE AFTERNOON…
Sometimes in the very late afternoon,
you can feel the presence of the stars,
invisible in the moment.
Sometimes whole parts of years
seem to possess
this potential for radiance
which remains hidden; the days
grow heavy with it.
Sometimes your weeks seem to be about
until it grows dark enough
for the light to begin streaming out.
AFTER A WARRIOR SONG OF THE HETUSHKA SOCIETY OF THE OMAHA
I shall vanish and be no more,
But the land over which I now roam
And change not. (The Winged Serpent, ed Margot Astrov)
in the lake of night
will always be reflected,
as my face
when my hair
turns the color of
the moon on snow
then shall I go
with the passing
of winter’s geese.