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The Pines
The pines are dark, with a bleed of sea mist coming through
the brush-worked texture of the air
to settle over the headland, where plaques have been
wired to a fence –
          memorials to those
                     who came to the end of themselves
and closer to the sea, in a low cloister
between ti-trees and flowering acacia
a woman and her children are burying a dog –
one holds a spade while others lower things
a leash, a bowl, into the ground
          and some nights I hear the calls
                     of the common brown frogs
dying out in timed, communal distribution
under the breaking velvet heads of bulrushes
and while I don’t always look for wonder
in what I see, as I know it’s often best to walk
to let that line of cloud be cloud
not the memory of what I saw in Naples –
Christ under a veil of Carrera marble – I understand
that observation can be just another word
for full immersion, or for skimming the tight skin
of a thought, that it’s transformative, or passive
and when I try to choose between
          taking the air and taking what I need
                     to use for later, for working the rhythms
of breath and blood flow into verse, I mostly fail
in my resolve to leave a scene alone
          knowing what a glance takes in
                      will be changing already as I think of it
the way coastal air unspools
from the needled stem of a pine, at dusk
and how offshore wind makes a tearing sound
along the crests of breakers, yet
          when observation becomes obsessive
                    it can overburden the senses and lead
to a depression in the well-spring of a thought or action
so mostly I walk, noticing
how the eye-patch on a male fig bird
turns a deeper shade of red when he faces the sun
or simply that a bird has my attention
and I’ll wait to see what happens next, which might involve
moving on, or ignoring an arrangement
I have made with myself
           by which I mean I’ll put aside concern
                       and caution, take my time, and learn.