Alpine wind
in the stunted firs
half whispers an austere
with overtones of regret
at being compelled by
a harsh landscape
to be mercilessly forthright:
a breathy flute-note
surging and fading
as the mountain
The susurrous crescendo
rises amid the crowns of
tall birch, cedar,
then a diminuendo
erases sound until
the harsh reassurance
swells again where the ridge lifts
from the valley floor:
branches, needles, leaves
paw and tremble at
air, as each trunk-top
gravely pulls the whole edifice
of the tree
into an earthward lean
and back
                                                                                                   —the wood nods to
                                                                                                   a wind’s rhythm
while a grove’s worth
of birch and aspen leaves
intricately merges small melodies
until the tunes
cohere, as if the rustles
of a human audience
settling into auditorium seats
before a performance
became itself the sonic offering
from the stage: a breezy intricacy
resonant with import,
one hushed theme
a melancholy recognition
of time’s disposal of
each of us now living
and another theme, interwoven
under, through, and
around the first’s sibilant
strain, invoking
the mysterious, exuberant
and daunting possibilities
that subsume
everything alive.
Con anima, con brio
This creek that travels
over stones along a wide channel
between banks of cottonwood,
scrub maple, hemlock
toward the river
releases the vibratos
of a blaze that consists of water
rather than air. The crackling throbs
of the white foam
as the stream cascades
downslope, chord after chord,
in the glittering sun
broadcast in every season
spring’s energetic
renaissance: the confidence
of the creek’s
sprightly descent, its optimistic
at depositing tiny flakes
of gravel,
particle by particle,
in the rocks’ lee
until sandy ground
pushes glistening up
into air, to snag a toppled larch,
its still-green branches
trailing in the moving water
—a pianist’s hands
that bob over keys—
its trunk thrumming
—a guitarist’s tapping foot.
This waterway’s
woodwinds, harmonica,
and snare drum
rehearse the stern warbling hiss
of flames’
from source to mouth.

Photo: Springer Creek in the Slocan Valley, near Slocan City, British Columbia (August, 2015). Photo by: Rod Currie.