Many years ago, I was visiting my mother around Christmastide.
One night, after she was sleeping, I wandered out for the moonlight.
She lived in a condo at a place rightly called
I stayed outdoors in the cold looking at this moon
and the Utah mountains for a long, long time.
RETURNING FROM AN ARTIST'S STUDIO
Late at night in my one life
I see fireflies scintillating a field
and a fullish moon up there working
on its reputation, which I thought
was secure. And though I'm not one
to stop my car for beauty
I stop, get out, begin to understand
how the first stories winked
of another world. It's as if
I'm witness to some quiet carnival
of the gods, or the unrisen dead
speaking in code.
Insects are eating each other. Stunned
beyond fear, mice are being given
their first and last flights,
talons holding them dear.
The fox has found a warren.
Everything I can't see
is at least as real as what I can.
If I stand here long enough
I'll hear a bark and a squeal.
The artist had an eye
for exaggerated sunsets
splashed with rain, odd collisions
of roots, animals, seeds,
I didn't like a thing I saw
so much effort to be strange.
The moon is hanging from a leafy branch.
The fireflies are libidinous
and will not be denied.
Different Hours; poems. Pulitzer Prize 2000.
W. W. Norton, 2000, pages 87-88.
My daughter-in-law took me to the Bruneau Dunes,
vast amounts of wind-arranged sand,
where things still manage to grow.
To go with this poem, I chose two photos
from times when I was particularly struck
by being able to spend time in the natural world.
Your poem might be about a time you remember
being deeply touched by the (often quiet)
life of the outdoors. I am working
with a shape of four four-line stanzas. jhh