Editor’s note: This week’s Poetry Corner features the work of J. P. Dancing Bear, the author of nine collections of poetry, most recently, “Inner Cities of Gulls” and “Conflicted Light” (Salmon Poetry, 2010 and 2008). His poems have been published in Mississippi Review, DIAGRAM, Copper Nickel, Third Coast, Natural Bridge, Shenandoah, New Orleans Review, Verse Daily and many other publications. He is editor for the American Poetry Journal and Dream Horse Press. Bear also hosts the weekly hour-long poetry show, Out of Our Minds, on public station, KKUP.
The Winter Wolf
There is something a little grayer than the snowed-upon
forest background: a watchfulness, a waiting hunger
in the peripheral vision. It is not that the white world
is comfortable to her, but she has found a way
to live in it: winter coat, letting the snow form
around her till it is a blanket that keeps her own
warmth within. It is not hard to see she lives
with purpose. This is where my beliefs begin:
she is the mind of snow. She has brought frost
to the pines, ice to the lake, and glitter to
the hills. Her voice is the wind cutting through
the landscape. When I hear her gospel in the boughs,
I know this is the cathedral, and when her gaze
is upon me, I am already on my knees.
you’d spent all afternoon constructing a tower of windows and doors: curtains
hanging flaccid as flags in the breezelessness of summer: all doors set ajar: so you can
see through any openings: the darkening sky becomes a home: your inner voyeur sees the ripple and shape of clouds: someone ridiculously whispers earthquake weather:
which is another way to say fear: the shadow of the setting sun adds extra beams on the
ceiling: in the scaffolding: you imagine yourself living in the penthouse suit high above: enough room to turn the page of a book: you’d be able to see out as far as the ocean and
the mountains: a lighthouse: not so much for a warning: as a much as a message:
welcome—there’s plenty of open rooms: wherever you like
Coyote and Finch Aubade
This morning an unexpected fog
greets me at the door; the branches
of redwoods and pines seem bodiless
but reaching into my own skin.
I hear the notes of a finch coming
from beyond the blanket of mist.
On the road the coyote stops long
enough to look back at me, as if I
might be slowing him up, keeping him
from his own importance in the world.
I look back, not with coyote reasons,
at your window half-buried beneath
the blanket of waiting stars and new light.
All this hunger and need is a gift
says the song of that nestled finch.