The sun purred cautiously
and stroked my back with claws now sheathed,
battle-weary lion —
spiralled down black distant dots
in shimmering thermals to their prey.
While she fought the moon for the firmament,
memories of grasses dried,
died and sprung again.
There was no game.
Little life remained to cross my path;
while time passed on too fast to pause
and wait for me to dig
rabbits of freedom with my dog.
So kicking my boots with the talcum sand
I rapidly walked the road.
I met the oldest oak
and kind moss-fingered
asked to oak-leaf me and lift
and heft and hold my weight.
I left my boots
and I swung,
jumped and crawled
to the very
top . . .
where the gaps in the cool green leaves
glimpsed the golden splendor of the sky,
I saw and swore I would not descend,
never walk on bloodless
to the black highway —
But when from a perfect airplant cup
uncurled a curious circus coral snake,
I had to climb down from my limbs in fear,
unripe. He came too near.
Had I met him,
let him kiss my hand,
I could have hugged the rough old bark as tight
as now these bars, my ribs —
I would have dried,
fertilly burning, someday maybe sprouting
Trinity Review – 1967