Sunday Morning, Cumberland Gap
Black cat appears under my roadside
picnic table. The Frame Shop is closed,
flags swaying. I walked here
from the next town through an old
railroad tunnel, two-step echo.
Raw rock walls overlook
the valley, as they have
since before the westward road.
Glaring quiet, no one leaves
the church; perhaps no one
A forties-era pickup sits behind
a white BMW. Passerby asks
if anything’s open. Bright. Green.
Art show on a corner, then
back through the mountain
to my own time.
Another faded June, walking a dog
now dead, coming home through
the back yard, I caught your scent,
muddle of jasmine and naphtha.
Innocuous blossoms twined
in weeds at the base of the slope.
I took some pleasure
in those fragrant days. Then
a decade, two, I saw too much
of you, dug in as your issue
skirted the yard, shoots
bangling the hill, spindly Hydra
endlessly re-rooting. Ritual
of pull, chop, clip, clear.
You overwhelmed the verge,
climbed dogwood and lilac
until they choked, dead trellises.
It’s me, shin-deep, you’re after
who too long mistook your grit
for delicacy. Up downspouts,
over eaves, and under siding.
Our seasonal engagement rages,
widens. I grow stronger, cagier,
and though it’s dead sure victory
has always been yours, let us meet
again next spring, in our tangling
undying. How beautiful to live
at all, and for another.
You vent a riff of high clicks
like a dollhouse door creaking as it
swings unlatched in a model
of wind. Unlike me, you can sing
and fly at the same time.
Sucker for a touch of honey
in the water, you small marvel,
great unbumbling bee, you are more
brazen than the winged
idols of gold that brought endless
song to Byzantium and the mind
of Yeats. Hmm: more miracle
than bird, yet not once out of nature.
The faster you can fly from
the unnatural, the more fearless
you are, anything but delicate.
Today in a wood I’m stilled
by majesty unimagined. You light
within reach, cooling wings
at a trickle of water over crystal
charms that someone has set
on a mossy stone. Here you are
drinking, thinking me, in my dull
green shirt, just another small tree.