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I still recall the vivid windows clenched
     in the sun like a passion you can't claim.
But as day breaks anew over the desert's
     uncanny canvas, mountains open and close
like a knife. A tremor waits by the stunted
     mimosa where whispers lead to more
whispers until by evening this scene is
     again an ache as birds haul themselves out
of the wind. Beside the dimming lupins
     on the hillside I thrust my head into
the branches of a pine: aboriginal murmurs
     calling names, first loud, then whispers
that lead to more whispers, then silence.
-- Brian Swann

This Side of Midnight
It is snowing again,
and the stars are silver as

candlesticks. It is like being
in a temple on some far Eastern

mountain. In the rocking wind
and unshackled darkness

where wild rivers run,
this sunset is the color of salmon

breaching. Stirring the campfire
with a stick, I lack nothing.
-- John Smelcer

Two Seasons
Winter, stalking like a crane, cold stitched on bone,
a fume of decay, creeps up, stretches and reaches ...
Light thickens; disaster climbs the vine; the trees
no longer hold the light. A nestling sighs.
A time of long-standing understandings.

The light comes slowly over white snow,
the sun cuts deep into the heavy drift,
below the cold roots stir; a scurry of warmth
over small plants. The dead don't hurry, but
the days move in a slow up-sway; a path
goes walking, kisses come back, the dirt's lonesome
for grass (as shapes in the shade watch and wait).
For John-of-the-thumb's jumping; a Mallard
has come to stay; I see my heart in the seed!
Sing, sing you symbols! Bless me, and bless the weed!
-- James Scofield

The Sea Horse Family
The sea horse is a question mark in the ark of the ocean
          that's carried it without question all this way.
Mythical as a unicorn, and even less believable
          with its dragon head, its body a legless horse
                    perpetually rearing, its monkey tail
          anchoring it to sea grass, sponge or coral,
but, my mate,
          no stranger than who you've become to yourself,
          feeling humongous as a whale and small as a human.
Today I'd have us be sea horse, and I,
          being the male, would be the one in the family way.
I'd carry our hippocamp, our capal mara, our shy sea pony,
          our question mark anchored in you,
unquestionably unfurling its body day by tidal day.
-- Greg Delanty

OnEarth. Winter 2003
Copyright 2002 by the Natural Resources Defense Council