Granite Sky, the Alps
On Paths: Part I
The pass is clearly
in view,

but the way—
how impossibly confused.

Special Delivery

Every day, when I go out
to get the mail,
I feel a secret desire
to find a letter which will
change my life.

It's time I wrote that letter

Getting Ready

Getting ready, sorting gear
trying to prepare myself
for every eventuality,

as the day of departure recedes
further and further
into the distance

Border Crossing

Not a word penetrated
the thick glass boundary.

Changing money,
all I had to do
show the bills.

End of Season

So strange, the beautiful
quiet land—

with so many empty chairs.

Winter Paths

More than five feet of snow
has healed the deeply scared landscape.

Even the houses seem more
at peace with the earth.

And those winter paths . . .

   winding, sensuous,
   unhurried rhythms,

     a drifting of the
     timeless music of
     long cold white nights.


On the way, it's
very difficult not to lose things,

but even harder not to
pick up more than you need.


On the way;
many beautiful camps
offer themselves for the night.

But to know
when to keep walking and
when to stay,

and, after stopping,
to know without a doubt
that this place, where one stands,


I am at home.

The Slip

Coming down
a steep icy path,

a slip instantly corrected,
forgotten, moving on.

Why can't I live like that?

The Color of Time

Losing one's youth is losing the
illusion of control over one's body.

Looking in the mirror, I feel alive,
vibrating— but all those gray hairs!

  Uninvited visitors who have come to stay.


On the wall—

  no more space.

The Knife

The tool needed to fix
the knife was on the knife.

A Hut

Side by side
a granite boulder,
a hut with a stone roof—

  I noticed the boulder first.


In the mountains, a bit
  of flatland is precious;

In the lowlands, just a little
  hill offers relief.

Difference— How it's loved

World Weave

To the side of a stream, a man
pounds a wooden stake into deep,
fertile soil;

From the other side, a woman
watches, first alone in her observation,
then, their eyes meet.

And instantly—

the work is a play,
  the stake a stage,
   a simple action
       a performance.


Why this desire to leave a mark?

A young boy on a motocross rips
up a stretch of wind-hardened sand

   looks back in satisfaction at
   the sign of his movement;

A man's bootsteps and a flag, left
behind on the surface of the moon;

Or those ancient sayings hammered into
the granite bedrock of streams gone dry.

One World

I grew up with two huge sky-images
illuminating the horizon of my youth:

That extraordinary photo of the Earth,
the very first— marvelously whole, a blue
pearl  f a c e  alive in an ocean of darkness;

The other,

five-mile-high deathcaps rising on
first-generation TV's, a picture so clear
that only children seem to understand.

Grown up now, thirty years later, and
who can blame me for being confused.

The Professor

Red socks tucked into
impeccable grey-green knickers,

relaxed, confident,
with the refined fingers
of a concert pianist,

tapping with his cane,
he gives just the right emphasis
to his last remark --

   "Beautiful mountains, these . . .
    But, too many rocks!"

The Other Way Around

Fat as a bear, dressed from
head to toe in 2nd-hand army
wool that he hasn't taken off
for weeks,

walking down with his lambs,
twenty of them, all male, still
covered with the crusty manure
of the winter barn,

standing in the middle of the
cold, fast-flowing stream,
big-bearded smile, he kicks
the lambs across, puffing
on his pipe all the while.

    "My wife used to come here
    with the goats as a small child."

    "Once, they brought up
    a priest from the village below
    to bless this spring."

   "She's always said,
it's the other way
    around; it's the spring that blesses us."


Not yet far from home

the full bus

drives right across

    the spring

with healing waters

without a name.

The Spring

The cowherd pointed
on the map and said,

"If you can find it,
you must visit this spring.
The water there is very mysterious."

"Years ago, they wanted to sell it,
but it burst the bottles—
every time."

The Well

At the village center
a woman fetches water
from a well.

She tells me,

"All my life
the flow of this water
has never changed.

"It was constant during the war
and when my sons did not return,
and it was constant during the time
they built the road and then the dam.

"Even during the winter of '51
it did not freeze.

"But last spring,
for the first time in my life,
it was silent of 7 days
and then ran muddy for weeks after that.

"This well
never did that

More Than Three

My three loves—

     music, poetry,

lie nested together, side by side,
like the three nuts in the chestnut's
prickly husk.

Together as one they are more than three.

Better, not to give this one a name.

A Village Cafe

Sitting at a table
sharing stories in a
small cafe,

round ripples of laughter
resonate in the wine—

   four glasses,
   one movement.

The Toad

A little toad,
not more than
half a thumb big,

     hop-hop, hop-hop . .

Our ways cross—
same path.

(Photo:: Granite Blue Skies, Looking East, the Alps)
| go to On Paths: Part II, a part of Week III | go to On Paths: Part III , Week VI | On Paths: Part IV, Week VII |
| go to Picture/Poems: Central Display | PicturePage: Week II |
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(Last update: IV.30.2000)