The following poems and photogravures originally appeared in Dappled Things by Robin Chapman and Peter Miller (Paris: Revue K, 2013): poems by Robin Chapman and photogravures by Peter Miller, copyright 2013 by the author and artist, all rights reserved.
Always the world-spun light casts patterns
raveled through the wind-thrown clouds, the forest’s
branch-broken loom, across the hoof-scraped moss
and snow-banks, the backs of browsing mule deer
whose swiveling ears listen for the whispered sound
of the tawny cougar’s padding walk. Dark and light,
sleep and wake and dream course through our lives
to make us what we are—sun and shadow-clothed,
bedrock and layers of fertile soil, green climb
and blight of history, wind-taken, time-wound
and wounded, heart-bound to world’s warp and weft.
Carried Away. Yoshino, Japan, 2004.
Out of dream sleep, deep sleep,
dawn embers flare, rinsing star sky,
setting shadows fleeing across
the landscape that wakes now not
to sun’s single eye but cloud-breath,
leaf sigh, soaked field, spider-web;
dowsed light igniting mist, tree,
the woman bending to the weed-work
Morning Glory. Arughat, Nepal, 2008.
What’s native? This stretch of yard once marsh
fringed by tall-grass prairie, fire-swept, drained
to re-emerge in cherry, hickory, oak all felled
for lumber, fallow in winter, tilled to cornfield
fringing the edge of town—come house, grass,
elms, honeysuckle border creeping in—now
we machete-slash the stems of indigo, beebalm,
asters and goldenrod for slow compost, clear
so that the tender crocus, scilla, and daffodils
will lift their faces through leaf drift to the early
bees and each of us weary of winter sleep.
Ozenuma. Ozenuma, Japan, 1994.
I watch the black crow, wing-wrenched,
walking on snow—how we can go on,
go on, memory-borne, through cold,
through wind’s work, loved world,
till owl-dusk or fox-dawn. I want to walk
with my friends through broken-winged days,
want words to lift us back to the ordinary air,
to spare us pain. I want the words, when time
comes, to speak by our graves, to comfort
the living, honor the dead, lay each of us to rest
earth-borne, shroud-wound or wind-kissed,
grateful for life’s brief flight of joy, light-blest.
Beyond the Sunset. Nagano, Japan, 2008.
Who Knows How
this life goes on
as we step and turn,
looking into each other’s face
as the fiddle music plays
the fluent syncopation
of the hambo waltz,
our center of gravity holding
between us, anchored
as weight shifts from me
to you and back again
as we turn and spin,
turn and spin—music
holding us in its arms.