Hands

A glass holds one rose on the kitchen shelf.
It begins to grow soft and yet I keep it.
A girl carrying two gave it on impulse
to me, an oldish woman on a bench
with only an ice cream in my hand.

She knew, I’m guessing,
that one rose was enough for her,
one hand in her lover’s hand,
and that perhaps
I could use a single flower
kissed by young blood,
young dreams of how life will be.

I buried my face in its scent
and took the hand of my husband,
procurer of deep chocolate in a waffle cone.

From the Wharf I Watch a Cormorant

CormorantCormorant

Some call them snake birds
the way they swim with their heads up,
a long twisty neck just visible beneath.

But when they become birds again
drying outstretched wings
I call them something else—
dark angels maybe.

Yesterday when one stood like that
on a piling barely submerged
it seemed to stand on water,
like Jesus, and with those
angel wings fluttering like fingers.

I stand like that, I thought,
to dry my underarms,
flapping and cooling myself
as Jesus must have done, too,
in that hot middle-eastern land.

The Christ in me, the One
in a cormorant: we greet each other,
one tick, all of us, from a reptile

Blue Kayak on a Silver Truck

Kayak #3Fells Point HomesFells Point with KayakI finally met a friend of mine—whose truck I’ve been photographing for a year. A blue kayak sits bound to the roof of his silver Tahoe. Sometimes I find it in front of a blue door, sometimes across the cobblestone street in front of the red door, usually on Fell Street, occasionally on South Ann or even Wolfe, depending upon traffic so near Thames where tourists and tavern-hoppers cruise for a parking spot. But he’s clearly a resident, and I’ve bet on the blue door, deeper blue than the hopeful sky –blue kayak—deeper, more anchored for the spirit of a man who still keeps a wild-river rapid in a safe place in his mind.

I have snapped it in snow, in the steely sun of winter, in the season that at last brought out geraniums potted with potato vine spilling over rowhouse railings, although his house—I’ve thought it was his house—has no railing, only two steps to raise its main room above the level of land and harbor—just an honest door, a step up to enter, against an old harbor home rising three floors. Honest like the truck with tis kayak on its sleeve, like love and hope and yearning and keeping.

His name is Van, a vagabond’s name, in a way, I thought, smiling when he told me. Children ready for a birthday party were spilling out of the silver truck; they had crazy hats on their heads, some having become pirates, some firemen, some outright princesses. He was corralling them, a little flustered, and I parted the sea of them and stuck out my hand and told him I’d known him for a year, though he didn’t know me, and that my affection for his truck and his kayak (transferred of course to the ghost-owner of these) had led to a series of photographs at every season. He seemed not to mind, seemed shifted a little, there in the midst of his duties with the small children, and we exchanged first names, and I crossed the street in front of his truck and blue kayak and wandered home on down Fell Street toward the sun and wind of the harbor’s rim.