And midway, in a green, paint-shiny chair on the terrace
of Café Progresso, I look across the vineyards of Provence,
where the early spring crags of grape wait in neat rows,
where fields of lavender collect themselves for blooming,
to Mont Ventoux, snow-capped, still—a lone, extracted Alp.
Behind are the undulant mountains, the Luberon—
massing into shadows, deeply green—their presence
genial at this distance. Within are crevasses and leaps,
narrow paths the wild boar still follow.
What I have followed here remains uncertain,
a journey half unfolded but no more clear.
Does it, too, seem innocuous from afar, a wanderjahr
to hone a craft, precedent to settling. The joke
is small, self-evident: at fifty the settling is done,
the craft long-practiced—and yet it seems more tentative
than it ever did before.
Still, a steadiness inheres, as if the mountains’ gravitas
had slipped inside—whatever the disquiet of this journey.
A massif weights the restless. So it is that halfway
along this path I find myself no longer at the ocean’s edge
full of longing, the turbulence of sea-wind exchanged
for height and valley. Now it’s birdsong, a rustle
in the undergrowth, an owl’s hollow oval call.
They are the very peace that they disturb—
and if an echo startles me inside the limestone cavern
or bounding off the quarry walls, belonging’s not the question;
it’s soon absorbed into the rock.
No journey’s ever different, I suppose, with its wayside
epiphanies and eventual returns. Still, the morning breaks
across the valley floor and brings fragile shoots of green
into relief. That too is gentler from a distance.
As all things are: this mountainous quiet
quiet only on approach. Inside are rocky trails,
the noisy caw of the jackdaw, the rooting boar—
it’s perilous, and steep.
Startling, These Ocean Liners of Air
With their Stevens-weight of sense hovering over
the manmade lake, its ration of shells.
Polished, almost cherubic, these cumulus-pooling sheers
park in the sky on their dark, flat bottoms—
sky never clouded so, rarely so amply occupied—
a midseason swell of luxury on tarnished-silver hulls.
Luxury of light-infused vapor, resplendent altars
of high breath—
belled curves luminescing like the eagle’s fletched dive
for the silver-green largemouth bass.
It cancels the morning’s instruction against the pastoral.
Arches into the natural as a fish flexed in talons.
Silver-green bent dying into sky.
Ideas sway in the wake of tail feathers—magnificent
transference, a shimmering—as material
as the rowers ahh-ing below in their spiny shells.
Every detail necessary to the whole.
Water drops have chilled to incandescent cloud bank,
an eagle ascends with its broken feast.
All is limpid, then.
Can you see? The world recomposes
around its menace.