Willamette Valley, Late March

Winter rains in the Cascades,
Days and nights of its arriving
on Pacific winds,
as cool mist or piling-up,
gun-metal clouds along the ridges.
If you come to this western valley
prepare for wet blessings:
28 kinds of moss and lichen, rust,
moisture-soaked ferns,
puddles outside your doorway,
a succession of umbrellas
you lose and find
and for lost and found days.

You stay inside with a steaming cup
and the book you've been meaning to read,
the one your brother sent
for last year's birthday.

At night
when the cars and people settle,
when the cats are sleeping on our laps,
and there is nothing--
nothing you can do
to avoid your life--the ghosts, the voices,
your imperfect self--
take comfort in the sound of rain,
the great privacy of water falling,
its belief in gravity,
its faith in the hereafter.

Ann Staley

Stray Paragraphs in April, Year of the Red Monday
with thanks to Charles Wright

Only those who are living are able to die,
            the others are already in the Great Beyond.

Voiceless without a word to say
            deaf with the sound of Bach.

Desire In Its Highest Form,
            the cats sleeping, entwined in the back bedroom.

Two flowering azaleas, steady heartbeat after a decade,
            the cold of mid winter.

Make of yourself a light, the Buddha said.

But what kind of light? A light house, a candle, a porchlight?

April is the cruelest month, said T.S. Eliot.

The damp becomes emerald green.

My soul is on fire.

Ann Staley

Victoria Day, Tiring The Heart

Along with the Department of Homeland Security
Employee Eligibility Form
which I'm filing - after teaching the workshop,
I have an index card laboriously printed by my friend
at Stoneybrook Retirement Home. It reads,
Irving Wallace rote "Word."
Joe passes this to me at the Farmer's Market
three months after a conversation during which,
he reminds me, this topic arose.
I'm saving it in honor of Joe's diligent memory,
his struggle to write and because it contains
one of the few absolute truths in these lines -
an objective fact, unless Irving was guilty
of some form of plagiarism. But I digress.

I have, as well, a spring haiku from the
Japanese freestyle master Taneda Santoka,
who commented, a couple of centuries ago,
mountains and ocean/too much beauty
(No end punctuation in haiku!)

At the bottom of this little pile, a poem
by Thomas R. Smith, begins,
It's like so many other things in life,
and now I'm smiling as I think of how
these many things - forms and Homeland
Security, retirement, memory,
even the too-much beauty of the world,
are, indeed, things to which we say no or yes
and also, the very things which faithfully deliver this life,
the one I am leading near the small stack of papers at my desk
as I breathe spring.

Ann Staley