A sampling of poems from Larry Gavin:
“The words stop but the meaning keeps going on.” Basho
Let it be the moment
before stepping into the water to fish.
Flies lined up in a box like
days on a calendar. A cigar
still unlit waiting: cows,
the definition of bliss, graze along
the far bank like those things
in life we hope to never forget.
Be there in that moment.
Just before water presses and
chills against legs; the gentle
pressure of time passing.
Wait a moment and study rocks
or insects diaphanous as the skin
on a girl’s wrist, and the sky
so blue: and high, and clear,
and bright. Let it be the moment
before stepping off the bank
from solid ground to gravel
and sand, and the muck we originally
crawled out of, into a new world
that contains our better self. And
let that world last for our
own particular kind of forever.
DIGGING POST HOLES
Digging Post Holes
It is the digging, and the taking
away of dirt, that is my first love.
The solemn pile of soil climbing
beside the hole, and the revelation
of the passing layers; topsoil, rock,
sand and clay. The harmony of colors
shifting like a secret. Occasionally a gift:
tree root, or a perfect round black
rock suggests some primitive
tool. It is the progress of going
deeply to ground.
The moistness spilling
up like scent with each lift of the digger –
the gripping and letting go
of the small measures that pass
for progress - down below the
frost line - into the continuity
of earth. Unaffected by what
is above, the heaving of my breath,
the pulse threading through my
body, the sunshine over my shoulder,
like hope, spills into the darkness
illuminating the once still earth.
JUST OUTSIDE ABERDEEN, SOUTH DAKOTA
In my mind, I track ducks
In astonishing numbers as they circle a marsh
North of town. mallards, ring-necks, canvas backs,
Teal - they circle and spin in great dark orbits
Searching the cattails for safe passage.
And the wind, like a creature from the north,
Fuels their need to land, or failing that,
Continue south all night and out of state.
Round bales stretch to the horizon
Like monuments from some ancient
Civilization that, no doubt, worshipped
In my mind, evening is coming on.
The dog whimpers in the cold. She senses
The urge to migrate too an urge that’s
New to her today, an urge to wander
the countryside, to go feral, to desert me
to fend for herself, take her chances
with the landscape, fight her way through it
and float upward until she becomes an idea.
We are not alone here on the edge of thought
We are doubled. Like sky in marsh water,
Like duck bellies on the surface of the sky,
And in my mind, one mallard tail feather,
Curly as a northern low, drifts to the water
Like a pendulum, back and forth,
Back and forth, until it lands - floating here
Buoyant as hope in the face of loss.
Ice Fishing At Winter Solstice
Sometimes I imagine
The darkness of late afternoon
Exists to remind me of how surely
All light will disappear. There is no
As the sun, in heavy clouds, declines
Behind hills; just as suddenly
All thoughts of day vanish, too.
The cold rises with Venus an evening
Star this time of year.
The world becomes a circus of circles:
Stars, the float, this hole
I stare into. I stare
As if the whole world depends on me
Being here, and staring through a hole
In ice, answering the old riddle
About what grows bigger the more
Is taken away. I could count
My losses as losses, but tonight
The world begins its graceful slide
Toward spring. Winter seems to pause
A moment; gathering itself suspended
In night: like bait suspended
By the float above the bottom,
Like ice suspended above the density
Of water, air above ice and on
Into the infinite vacuum of space.
The float tugged beneath the surface
Threatens to pull me down, too.
Instead, I draw the line tight
And set the hook.
I might as well be reeling in stars
Reflected through dark water
To just within reach, becoming a fish
That can’t live in air. My cold hands fold
Around him as if in prayer.
Blue bills pile up
on Tim’s slough
and the weather man,
more lost than normal,
says: rain, sunshine, snow.
But we know, the dog and I,
that city weather does not apply here
in cattails under a darkening sky.
We know too
that these ducks have flown so far
ahead of this wind
they feel they own it,
and by association
own the open water,
a kind of unmanageable daughter,
needing there attention
so they land
ending the way they began.
Behind them snow starts
delicately at first
a drifting, lacy reminder
that supper is cooking
and that these days
faster than light.