The flowers are spent and the leaves are fading in the garden of Peridot Green. We bundle up the cold terracotta pots and carry them inside, but they rarely survive the dark winter of our apartment. Plant and animal cells live and die at the mercy of our building’s heating system, with its mysterious noises and wild fluctuations. Oh Lily, my skin feels the way your leaves look.
We have black paint on our walls and artists that prefer desaturation. “It’s too dreary in here!” says the Albatross, in his gray feather sweater. He asked Bluebird to find some colors for his poetry, so, off she went.
Cold winds from the North
Travel the misty river
As the sun sets early
Climbing on branches
Windy cheeks, watery eyes
Blaze red maple tree
Laura and I like a campfire
That warm little nucleus
In a twilight grass circle
The dark of pine monsters
With needled arms
Being kept barely at bay
By the fluttering orange flame
That flickers skeletal
In the glowing tree lines
They lean in
Over walls of forest dark
Like guardians of the shadowlands
Our ruddy faces across flames
Exchange sips of bourbon
And the fire leaps
occasionally in our eyes
Which makes stars of them
In our own minds
Radiating heat and light
In the obscurity
But only so far
Somewhere in the inky depths
Saturn is devouring his son
And Goya haunts those woods
But on a particular evening
In a particular twilight grass circle
Our little fire
she roared in the night
Fueled by the past
Up close her hair is fierce
It whips and licks the darkness
Ember spittle flicking bright
Runaway stars that try in vain
To ride the silky smoke home
Trying to escape the smoldering
The burning earth underneath
Our talk turns to a world on fire
Bombs are falling like delta winged
Evil angels sent to stoke hellscape
Would you hunker? Head North?
Sip a drink and sing Tom Lehrer?
“Oh we’ll all go together when we go”
And the campfire seems nearer
To our minds
Our hypnotized eyes
House that destruction now
Two days from now we’re going to run away from all this. All this cab honk, cop whistle, fire siren, hammer pound, twit feed, key tap, and every new white tufted horror read. We’re running away. Yes, in two days time, stream will burble, water will pirouette with boulders. Diamonds will fleck the roiling surface, conspire with the sun, but underneath the rushing currents, the fish are our treasures. We will, with long bamboo rods and zipping lines, whip the trap. Wee fuzz and iridescent feathers wrapped with meticulous care and magnified eye to resemble a simple fly. Two centuries or more of fishers licking lines beneath their straw hats around the waters of Mount Tateyama show us how to stalk. Their robes wet to the waist, hooking Yamame, Iwana, Amago, that leap glittering on the line from bursts of captured energy. No easy task fishing Tenkara. Most of our thought lies not in this world but theirs. We see the color spectrum of scales nestling in comfy corners, hiding in soft holes decorated just to their liking, resting their overworked fins on lush couches, bubbly beds, grassy waving carpets. How we picture their watery palaces. How to entice these lords from their lounging? A perfect and ancient flick of the bamboo will make that fly float down like autumnal leaves and settle lightly, ringlet ripple plating a tasty morsel. It drifts, riding the current, a pretty little temptation with a heart of steel and barbs, all eyes on the fly, it slides through rocks, silence, a bluebird tweets through a patient pause, quiet stream gurgle... then...a thrashing splash! It proves too appetizing for one and in a flash it's in another world of much bigger fish. It's wrapped in hunters claws wriggled dry. Too small, says the hunter then all the world is wet again. Beware the winter fly!
Bryan McGovern Wilson
When I was still a small child my neighbor, who was six years older than me, called to me from the dark of the mysterious next yard. There was no moon and I was wandering around in the dark playing a ninja of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Dressed all in black, I was stealthily climbing, leaping, rolling about the wet of night grass, my deadly plastic sword roped over my shoulder, suction cup throwing stars on my belt, crickets masking my steps. I was busy stalking the top general of Môri Terumoto when a disembodied voice came from the shadows. I leapt with a jolt, shocked my ninja skulking was noticed. His six years made me idolize him, the older brother, and I quickly called back, ‘Who goes there!?’ ‘Come here! I want to show you something,’ the voice coming from an open patch with no trees close to the road. I adroitly hurdled the bordering bushes and his figure formed ghostly in the middle of the yard along with an enigmatic object. ‘What is that?’ I asked. ‘It is a very powerful telescope,’ he replied. ‘I have been checking out Jupiter’s evil eye. Wanna see?’ The long tube rested upon a tripod and the eyepiece was set so you had to look downwards, towards the Earth, to see the heavens. It felt strange looking down to see up. I pressed my eye to the lens. The kaleidoscope of variegated chaos, Jupiter’s wild storms, beamed from three hundred sixty five million miles away into the tiny orb of my eye, filled it with swirling wonder, or dread. I’d seen pictures of Jupiter, of course, but ‘Is this live?’ I asked not quite believing this entire reality, this other world, that I just wanted to reach and touch through the portal door of the lens. The lens had taken those twinkly spots and made Titans of them! We glimpsed Saturn and his halo that night, and the churning galaxies. ‘All of that is happening right now,’ he said. ‘Or well, sometime.’ ‘What do you mean?’ I asked. ‘You’ll understand someday,’ he smiled, his teeth bright in the dark. I smiled back although he couldn’t see it through my ninja mask. I realized just then how late it was and that my mother was going to kill me. There was school the next day and as usual I hadn’t done my homework, but I wanted more of that lens that had morphed my own lenses. On cue, the voice of my mother rang out from my home. The porch light flicked on and blinded us. ‘I’m coming, Ma!’ I hollered back, and said goodbye to my neighbor. ‘What are you doing out here in the dark on a school night?’ she yelled. ‘You’re gonna get it! Did you do your homework?’ ‘Yea, Ma. I was studying the stars.’
Christina Van Der Merwe
When the leaves begin to change
Anne Marie puts on her puffy down jacket
to go for long walks in the woods.
She has done this every year
since her sister died a windy gray autumn
sixty years before.
Brisk breezes make whisperers of the trees that gossip in colorful lisps.
A cold was caught and had moved into her chest,
they sigh so sadly for Anne Marie.
But she smiles
as her favorite fall boots shuffle the leafy carpet
and perfume the crisp air.
She takes these walks to talk with her sister among the trees.
They thrust their root fists down into the murky dark,
clutching what is needed to make beauty.
Limber and green you were, sister
with flowers in your hair,
a tree stuck down with lightning,
lying upon the forest floor.
I remember your green leaves against the brittle brown,
our eyes overcast with early autumn,
much too early for such a fall.
I miss you, a hiss of the wind,
words drift down like the orange and red leaves
that settle on Anne Marie’s silver hair