"there's no through trail" —Han-Shan, translated by Gary Snyder

Two Poems by David Lloyd

Leah Oates

Leah Oates

Issue: Fall 2016
Because a Beech

The squirrel drey, wedged in the fork of the beech,
is a ragged mess. But it weathered winter:
the twigs, leaves, bark, moss glued with God knows
what magic–and with hope and despair,
and instinct, without doubt, when the reaching hand
touches what it must, just because.

And that’s the point: the far and wide because,
god-wired into squirrel as into beech,
as into this eye and this blind hand
that feels past as much as present, winter
and the tossed seeds of spring. Don’t despair,
those packed bodies tell us. Yet I’ve known

the still head on the pillow. I’ve known
fingers that will not unbend.  Because …
because what? Because nothing. We’re told despair
constricts while instinct opens. The leafless beech
gathers up tired birds; the now of winter
passes when seeds at last crack. A hand

touches another. Needs. Seeds. Far and wide. Hand
over hand. Mind doubting matter. Ear and nose
recollecting what the mind buried for winter’s
deprivations: a thousand caches – because …
you never can tell. This week a beech
branch is a podium for a telling pair

of cardinals, whose instinct is to stay paired,
deprivation or no, brighter reds to hand,
or not: their own because, as the beech
that gives itself wholly – branch and fork – knows.
Because. What we don’t know we know. Because
I know a pale dawn that shines on winter’s

crusted snow. Because I know a winter
that buries a thousand fists under ice – despair
then hope, the frozen seeds bedded. Because
all things pay attention. Because the hand
that saws the branch rocks the cradle – knowing
no choice. So far, so wide. Because the beech

weathered its last winter, awaiting the hand
that awaits its warmth. Despair? Hope? Yes? No?
Because a cradle. Because a beech.


On a Walk to Brickyard Falls

Everything changes from Limestone Creek
to Brickyard Falls. New boulders, trees

toppled by storm or beaver
across the creek bed.

My dog rolls in something dead,
not the same dead as before.

The upper lines of ridges bordering
the prehistoric river reduced to this creek, reach higher

today, and the crescent moon between branches of maples
stripped in early evening is lost to clouds.

Today I thought I could accept the most terrible changes,
even the pulling of ice into itself,

even the progress of my body along a path
I never see until it happens.

 


david-lloyd-su-press

David Lloyd is the author of nine books, including three poetry collections: Warriors (Salt Publishing, 2012), The Gospel According to Frank (New American Press, 2009), and The Everyday Apocalypse (Three Conditions Press, 2002). In 2000, he received the Poetry Society of America’s Robert H. Winner Memorial Award. His poems have appeared in numerous magazines including Crab Orchard Review, DoubleTake, and Planet. He directs the Creative Writing Program at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY.