Maura High


Snow on Snow

A rare snowfall, and scant,
salting the grass, just enough
to scrape together a lumpy torso
to look out over the ruined garden:
the same snow and the same figure
that I made as a child
on the path under the clothesline,
and in the deep snows
when my children were children—
our adam, our home-made man,
never quite finished, always
in the process of undoing himself,
of letting himself go.
Every winter, we start again
with joy— scoop and slap
and pat, saying hello
then farewell, sending
something of ourselves with him
when he goes.


These large rocks
that lie or stand athwart
our suburban lots—
what do we make of them?
Stone forts, childhood’s pinnacles, portals
through which at any time we may step,
and all around us hear
the roar of wind, ice crackling, rain
sluicing down the crags and gullies of the ancient mountains,
at whose feet we scrape up a handful of wild soil,
all that remains of them and resists
our efforts at domestication.

        for Frances

One leaf falls from the hickory
outside my window--
a slow loop right,
an about turn, and squiggle--
so cursory a gesture, it looks
like something written
in an alphabet of leaves:
a charm against insects
and woodpeckers; a plea
for all the leaves that fall,
blacken, and rot, and leach
into the earth, and rise again
to new petiole, new leaf,
singing the green song of desire
and the brown of thrift;
the whispery, creaky name
the tree gives itself;
or the name we have given it,
full of ourselves and our own
histories, as a child
writes her given name and sees
herself there, her first self-portrait.