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Near Sunrise Looking on

Near sunrise looking on
four ducks paddle early winter
bare trees hang both banks
in silhouette before the sun
the lake an early portrait

and I can come
before the morning heart-struck
the lake precedes the sky
gathered from its corners
given back as silver.

In the light
of this false dawn they try
the cove for what ducks seek.
In light of what is coming south
how will any fend?

Brought sober
from a dream compelled
to catalog each gong strike
eyes nailed to the passage, it is
the frantic’s day again.

Looking on
one could suppose the houses
were temples oddly perched
each side a rambling shore
to make sweet ritual of sunrise.

There is no chanting
here I see no flowers flung
no Buddhist prayer flags
no good means to greet the day
beyond these modest creatures.

It is desperate
meditation for their witness
for those outside a rising warmth
catching morsels from the bottom
closing on these waning days.


Like Yeats above a civil war
distanced, fragile, listless
inside a wooden tower
focused, deeply wounded
comforted then not, a pale
lake’s silver before morning
glowing waters greeting day
in glamour and so restless
heart-strung in this peace.

Fall, ’02