Skinned

Holding a Dead Rattlesnake by flickr Creative Commons User JeffreyW

I remember the day at summer camp
when we caught the rattlesnake.
Beheaded it. Skinned it. Tossed the body.

Stretched the hide. Nailed to wood.
Poured salt on the skin
and placed it in the sun to dry.

I imagine the glistening bundles of muscle
shimmering in the sunlight
dappled with a pattern of leaves and the occasional cloud.
Now useless. They lie on a bed of forest decay.
Fluids which once carried oxygen and nutrients
ooze onto the litter of nature;
Debris of a less obvious struggle.

I can’t remember the snake’s struggle to survive.
Don’t recall a baring of fangs for defense.
Or what we did with the head.
But I do remember the beauty of the stretched skin
with its patterns and scales and my wonder at the ease with which we
denuded the snake of it and claimed it as our own.

Photo credit: flickr user jeffreyw

Transfiguration

Red Maples by CTD 2005 Flickr Creative Commons

There is a quiet moment
when winter moves aside
and spring begins
secret and obscure
it hides
known to initiates
holding full glory
of the new season
in newly formed hands

In mystery
arching and straight
stark as branching veins
against the flat sky
small trees lift their
growing edges
to be transformed
from sienna to burgundy
by the warmth and light
of an eternal star.

Red maples slowly uncoil
their blossoms
promise of fruitfulness
chancing cold
frost tinged air
they rise in union
with the opening world

Photo credit: flickr creative commons user Ctd 2005

Tide

Folly Beach. Marsh, Birds and Morris Island Light by Wm. Smithem

Today I have watched
every cycle of the tide.
four divided by two
high and low
alternately covering
and uncovering.

With each one
I expected
to find some evidence of you
floating toward me,
or evidence of you
steadily in retreat
and I only found
the rhythm of the ritual
flood and fall.
like a woman’s body,
the marsh fills and empties.

I think I expected this water
to bring you to me like
Jesus walking;
a miracle resolving all
doubts, simply believed.

Then I imagined
that I would flow
outward and find you
connected as we are
by the water, the wind,
and the grasses
undulating in unison.

But all I saw
were the birds,
who took flight
and carried me
into the horizon.

Wind Train

Wind Train

All this early morning the wind
quakes in the arms of the lingering night,
like an unseen freight train its noise
and vibration rend the dark-quiet.

Any moment, I think, it can crack
through the walls of our room.
Our two bodies rattled from sleep,
will be gathered up in the thunderous roar
and flung back and forth in a climax of sound.