…….(for Jean Valentine)
It seems the time of Angels has passed.
I cannot hear them anymore.
Not like I used to.
Listening – that’s what brought me here –
to the middle of this field untended
near a stand of sturdy evergreens – listening
amongst cattails swaying to a southerly breeze.
Blanket, lantern – this is the farthest
I have walked from the house –
into my life. To hear them again.
To be given direction, like these birds
tuning up in the field.
Early and late; almost daybreak –
this is the hour to be most present, climb
higher, cresting a ridge in the middle of these acres
Now amongst the reeds, the birds
take to the sky, into the light,
all one fluid motion, certainty and faith –
Tell me which way.
Climbing down, back to the flat land
sky opening out – tell me
which way –
…….“My poetry is … a way of solving for the unknowns.” – Robert Hayden
Do you hear it? Slight sigh back of
the wind. Kohl sky opens
into this eternal deep –
comes long after midnight. Stars gather –
lean into my silence.
Walking in the hush, talking to the Lord.
Look at the papers on my desk huddled
under their blanket of dust. Almost
hear the words disappear – blown into
the dry well of what will be forgotten –
Very soon they will be swept away.
Every already known is
a little stand of pine just past
the house –
Aging we birth into this new world –
out in the far field
what matters shines.
This knowing –
like winter-cold tap water –
too soon now it all comes clear –
Winter: Sermon Over the Lake House
I am this wide opaque sky & this ice;
you will respect me.
You will be slow & careful;
you will feel the earth and be grateful.
I am everywhere beside you –
I will lay down night when I like &
you will come into my arms & give me love.
You will cleave my short, dark days to you; pray
they catch you when you fall.
You will feel my cold breath,
recognize all you did not see; shiny black ice –
slick branches bent low & those talking-almighty crows
strutting around the dogwood in my embrace –
telling you to just let go & feel it
Feel it: pearly moonlight casting long silver shadows –
the snow-lit path full of diamonds on its way up
to that lonesome bright star hanging
over this house, eaves bent to breaking
under ice floes – their heft eating
the old wood away.
Beneath this night’s ebony scrim
everything is everything & everything is
equally alright. Breathe again
& remember me halfway out of this darkness –
halfway – when you gather pussywillows
& bend them into crosses
before you & I are done.
……..(after Pablo Neruda)
Cut by thorns of desire
scarred by your love
I have come again to this alone place.
Bare walls, near dark –
safe as stone.
Tea clear as sadness,
love pure as salt
Wind waking the green song
of the chimes.
I go down to the secret river;
I undress the wound.
Baptize me in darkness
Mother of this lonely place.
Do not come too near;
let me bleed and be alone.
I am filled with sacred water;
I am healed –
I grow and fill these bare rooms.
I flow down the avenues
silent as my love –
Chloe does not rest
because you speak her name all day long and
she is called here once again –
bound by a crumbling wall and
the mist of that name you keep breathing –
barely there – and there
She is again taking shape
gathering visible form
I think she’d rather rest
Fold her soft wings
sleep on her side –
I think she’d rather
vanish in the rain again
And stay that way –
—Denise Evans Durkin
Denise Evans Durkin is a poet living in Putnam County, New York. She is a graduate of the MFA in Writing program at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her poems have appeared in Numéro Cinq.