Three Poems by

Royal Rhodes


The book I read from last night

recalled "the soft and beautiful sea"

for the author, but not for me.

What I see still in that late summer

are low clouds in blank puzzlement,

a banked line over a deep grey wash.

You did not acknowledge seeing me,

waiting beside the stone seawall

in the shadow, a trick of the light.

That day as in my timeless memory

the world narrowed, as thin

as the beach seen beyond the tide line.

And the moving light crept away

as you walked away with others,

while I inhaled and released each breath.


A songless fledgling in a ghostly garden,

as if a drawing made with x-ray lines,

emerges out of shadows bound by dreams.

This is the darkened wood in which it hovers, interstices of night between the trees,

whose leaves are feathers so precisely splayed.

And here a woman who remembers this.

Her breath and pauses punctuate these words,

telling many tales of silences.

Her unseen arms are arched above her skull.

She tips her mask-like face to that slow fan, descending overhead -- the shuddering --

a solemn touch of slowly flexing wings.

O wonder, when she sees they are her own.


The frost parched the earth

that remembers rain on a meadow.

Here the cover of virgin white

is everywhere level and smooth,

and time, monotonous, static,

is not sequential at all

but all in the present and now.

A crackling of ice on the door glass

at the local Nature Center

looks like arctic runes or maps

to sacred ice caves, hidden.

Through the large, double-thick panes

the great trees look distorted,

no longer linear, but in fact

each one is bending exactly

as they appear in the clear window.

The winter moon, like one in a poem,

sets diffuse light, not a single

tense line broken on water.

At the crossroads each path is blank.

What is there to see? A birch

and several small pines to the side,

tipped by the wind towards Kokosing.

And if I could see their invisible essence?

I would see a single birch

and pines bent over an icy river.

But the river, crystal with ghostly water,

ceaselessly freezes our sorrows,

waiting to unleash them in Spring.

BIO:  Royal Rhodes is a retired educator who taught classes in global religions,

ancient and modern, for almost forty years. His poems have appeared in: Ekphrastic Review, Ekstasis, Dreich, The Montreal Review, and elsewhere.