Three Poems by
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.
THE PHANTOM BIRD
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.