Ladybug, climb a blade of grass,
red on green with a bright blue sky,
move your legs at a regular pace,
and when the blade bends over, fly!
My shadow starts
rivers of dust in reverse:
lizards flow up rocks.
Two lizards blink.
Their bodies swell and deflate
in a cool day’s sun.
Straddling the sun, a water strider makes
tiny jewels where its legs dent the surface.
When it moves, pulses of rings disrupt
the flow of dots over bright pebbles,
made by ripples of an exposed rock.
I follow a streamlet up its gully,
climb over a mossy limestone outcrop
where it makes a miniature waterfall,
sit among ferns and smell the bay tree,
watch mayfly nymphs in the pool wave their gills.
The wind roars in waves through the trees
as I sit above the valley in open sunlight.
When the air is calm, a beefly hovers,
poking its snout into yellow flowers,
but when the wind begins to rise, it lands.
We met a dog in a field with iris,
who followed us for quite a while.
“Maybe he just wants to be
around people,” you said.
We sat on a sunlit hilltop,
but the treetrunks were covered
with moss and fungus.
You broke off bits of fungus to show me.
We talked of people, love, god,
and whether moss really grows
mostly on the north side of trees.
“I don’t believe anything they say
about moss,” you said.
The dog left us on our way back
down to the lake. I watched the hawks
trace patterns in the air.
They were almost far enough away
to be thoughts, as I think
again and again of your face.
Mary and I sit on the patchwork couch
in the office of an informal school
of art, ceramics, and astrology.
She picks up some of my recent poems
and reads everything I want to say.
“I want you to be happy,” she tells me.
I’m laughing, smiling at her smile.
“Talk to me, Carl,” she says.
We rested once or twice as we climbed uphill,
found a trail that melted into the grass,
lay beside each other on your coat.
I felt peaceful, but my heart was pounding.
You wore bluejeans and a tight red T-shirt.
You smiled and kissed me when I said, “I love you.”
It became an easy thing to say.
Mary’s parents are away somewhere.
She has to watch their house tonight.
Their big black and white dog, Sam,
clicks his claws on the hardwood floors
as he walks from room to room.
He gets upset and barks whenever
Mary and I hug and kiss standing up,
but doesn’t mind us doing this lying down.
Mary says she can’t go all the way
right now for lack of birth control,
but if I keep my jeans on in bed,
we can cuddle and caress.
I keep waking up in the dark,
moving my hands on her smooth warm skin.
She reaches over, turns on the light.
I see her smiling, light brown hair,
bare breasts and legs, bikini pants.
“I just had to see you,” she says,
then turns out the light and kisses me.
the not quite rose
of your face,
we say goodbye
at the bus stop,
soft and warm.
The fish were resting on the gravel,
facing the glass while I watched them
waving fins like wings and talons,
amused at how the refraction
distorted where they seemed to be
when I looked from different angles.
“They’re dragons,” I said; “look at them;
they have every spine and feature
a dragon is supposed to have.”
The largest one was swimming now,
brilliant orange-and-white against
the sunlight flooding through the shop.
The woman I had spoken to smiled,
looked in the tank for a moment
to share a stranger’s perception.
I was watching the smaller ones
open and close their mouths and gills,
and fantasizing breaths of flame.
copyright © 1979 - 2005 Carl Miller
Drawing, “Mary’s Trail” 2004, gel pen on paper, 6 x 10 inches. This is in Samuel P. Taylor State Park.