Eave of the House
Sound of wheels on the gravel,
the light of early October spreading like honeysuckle
as cornstalks began to fall,
the lavender horizon waved like the drape of a bier
over a close girl changing in age
beneath a seeing lantern.
Hand in hand
we sat on the pale grass,
at dusk the red hawk curved behind the line of trees
taking a squirrel
to the eave of the house
dripping like a willow.
Thumb and finger separate the paper tape
of cedar sticks and sandalwood to burn for fragrance
I doubt will surround
nighttime fluid as the black creek painted stones,
then we will follow the cricket vibrations to sleep
becoming soon the fallow of this ground.
South Dakota Canyon
Spiked with snake fang and hoof,
a brilliant sun flows through the canyon
like a pronghorn springs from the wildcat
I dissolve into a landscape steppe
with no man permitted to define
This blue is endless
though anyone could sing for themselves
when the world is silent.
Meridian winds become a vortex
like the heart’s correspondence in cipher,
I drift into the eagle’s shadow
among the hares and white stones
discovered in a departed remembering,
the last rain pooled inside a deer skull
where holy men drink and bathe like a lake
reveals its depth to one cup’s lip.
Knee Deep Water
Above the oak tree arisen from pressed bed grass
a grey harrier scraped
talons upon the whetstone of the sky curve,
the air and bird merged
when you spit bark tea into your unfolded hands
like a planted book vanishes in passing time.
I was born under the ash of the eaten deer
with cut blood to its antlers ending in fall,
I named a holy day in freezing knee deep water.
The wind left a rainstorm on the dying plain
staked with twin rivers a wild horse grazes,
later, the fire warmed a common ruby in my pocket.
The colors of the turning road echo in my skull
to become myself
forgotten in the wash sounding a profound mass.
John Swain lives in Louisville, Kentucky. Red Paint Hill published his first collection, Ring the Sycamore Sky.