after Tyge Ingerslev’s Kolindsund 2011
Gradations of gray frame
swan ghosts gliding twice-white,
each a note composed as the train
crosses flat land to Århus Station,
winter 1990, Kolind is all pond
glass out the window the smooth
idle a mute ease trumpeting water’s
return, reclaiming reclaimed fields.
Today the disappeared lake’s
striations line like sheet music
pressed on a schoolhouse shade
drawn past return, what’s dun
was water pumped and drained,
what’s left is bottomland too wet
to farm, rushes at the deckle edge
recall the refrain of lake and swan.
For Iben, Almost Forty
A breeze in the willow sweeps
new fronds over the birdhouse
with the Japanese license plate
for its tin roof. Each season
the chickadees consider and pass
its vacant eye. Seeing surrenders
to sound as a slip of wind spins
again the way a song yesterday
returns Iben still eighteen, her smile
as warm as a Danish bakery.
Hedgerows line Grenå streets,
the å eases the town’s length.
To speak the Danish for creek,
you open the mouth like the end
of echo, the hole in a house
with no door wedged in the center
of a tree, this place you keep for those
who might return if the right wind
plays in the hollow ache makes.
Gray with an A
Unpicked apples last the winter,
hangings and other ornamentals.
Leaves are a turn ahead, February
appears too soon for all this wool,
for those waiting to finish the two-
winter novel all war and no peace
except hummingbirds and bushtits
firing like the only ideas in this fog
and trapped smoke. Excuses say
exactly what you want to hear,
trust yourself to buffer the stillness,
lost faith makes a small mark, stays,
a dog outside a barbershop, follows
you home, this itch under the collar.
You miss a good storm, real dark
begs tomato soup and toasted cheese
sandwiches, everything your mother
believed requires a cumulonimbus sky.
She cuts juice-glass circles
into baking powder biscuits,
each opens a disappeared moon
fit to slather in butter, dunk
in white beans with ham
Mom simmers as she folds
the spaces and flattens enough
for the last two wheels she lines
on the cookie sheet, and I fix
dough eyes popped clean
as a brother gone, me in his shirt,
his room mine. Out the window
the same laurel hedge he watched
alive with robins’ nests, black
branches twisted as thick as a fence
blocking the Paske’s yard, croquet
balls clacking, kids shouting Poison,
rat dog yapping, Old Man Paske,
who never knew me from my brother,
biting his pipe stem inhaling, launching
a single smoke ring as if he invented air.
Header photo of swan courtesy Pixabay.