A Blessing in the Birches
for Shannon and Matthew
That you are for one another
such rare light –
those warm, long days
that linger in the bark, even during winters
when one has to burrow deep,
that you grow with one another
as those close, tight rings
prized for beauty and for strength,
like hands clasped
years in years,
that you, for one another,
burst in green delight,
tiny hopes unfolding
in a tender, hushed ovation
of one thousand thousand leaves,
that you find layers
of your lives transforming
into nests and baskets,
ways of holding one another up,
this is what I hear from the birches
that stand around your home,
watching you pour yourselves out
to find the sweetness in the pitch,
shelter and white shade.
Three Things Too Wonderful for Me, Four I Do Not Understand
for Thomas and Eve
I have watched rivers
in their urge to come together
clouded and churning:
two waters bent on union,
channels deep in the riverbed
longing to converge.
I have climbed ridges
where earth presses against itself
and, instead of yielding, rises:
two plateaus striving,
rich and hungry
to share a single space.
I have touched trees
aching for the same sun
bound to one another, braided:
two crowns grown in
and drawing common light
to nourish separate roots.
I have marveled at you,
as you fuse without negating,
love without subduing,
as your iron sharpens iron,
made more without the other turning less.
It is too wonderful for me,
ten thousand things combining.
for Tabby and Rick
A potter told me once
what marriage was.
It’s not the unformed clay, she said,
shaping out of nothing into want,
not the once-fired vase
that fractures at a word.
The wonder of it is
the glaze, a bowl now sealed
for honor, use, delight,
protected from the harder world
and wholly beautiful.
Now go, she said,
into that strength
for Christina and Traver
Go ahead and laugh –
hold hands and stagger backward
in relief and freedom
only instinct understands.
Trust, like wings trust air
to be as safe as grace,
that you were made to love
birds who track their mates
by a brazen, blissful song
and celebrate in Yes,
delight in flight and rise,
sweet weightlessness of being found.
Hide and seek is over
and you are doubled now,
alive in two places, wild for the thrill
of beating with two hearts,
four feet, and twenty fingers interlaced.
The instinct of all life is joy.
May your cup be twice as full
and fill again when you hear the other laugh,
joining without reason,
allowed inside, accepted, hoped for
as the winter dreams of spring,
as what is frozen thaws,
as what was sleeping wakes
and breaks into a run
because the sun is out.
God loves you both
and what can that change but everything?
If You Were a Sufi Mystic
for Conan eight days before our wedding
You would write me poems every day
spelled out in carpenter’s pencils in the driveway,
breakfast cereal in a yellow bowl, the stars
synchronized and blinking.
You would write for me that the universe is in love,
conspires to give us everything we want,
that the sun schemes to shine
on delirious grass
so that each step we take will be softened.
You would go on saying I was a hammock,
strung high and bulging with the weight of wishes
that all came true
like a fisherman’s net stretched taut
with the shimmer of fat fish – all the wishes
iridescent and glinting like rainbows.
You might even think, drunk on beauty
and the promise of delight,
that you were a rainbow
and I was the sun, or we were the rainbow
and God was the sun, or the sun was the rainbow
and we were with God
and His mighty magnifying glass
seeing everything bigger, everything brighter,
everything right with the world.