Poems by Christine Horner
Published in Stranger in the House
Is she gone? that strident hawk
who daily spilled her orange scream
up the valley like borate fire
retardant in the flaming face of dawn?
Is she gone leaving me this
lifeless quiet unoccupied?
Where is her insistent hunger, her haste
her indelible carmine claim?
Insidious, this stillness in the oaks;
It sifts into my downy warmth in quilts.
The soundless early hills gray up.
Silence rises as a sun, steeps the trees and
Morning, stunned, fills with absence.
Suddenly, this moment's hush is swept
in a red-shouldered rush of meaning: yes,
she is gone!
No longer she courses her home realm,
to snare a warm morsel.
No longer she sits on her branch—
polished talons of one foot lightly
on the cooling, yielded belly of breakfast.
The valley so changed, by seasons, by chance,
in subtle ways or urgent advance, hears this
silence as the herald.
The valley changed, by accident or choice,
fills with listening for her scarlet argument,
the full-blood of her voice.
(photograph by Dorothea Lang)
Her face as weathered
as the hundred year-old barn
that fills the frame behind her.
As straight as the grain in the wood,
the line of her mouth, remembering
some task she had to leave
Her eyes are looking past the lens,
at anything but the lens,
looking back at some pushy
morsel of memory that rises
like a cud to busy an idle moment.
Whose idea was it anyway—
to face the sun like this
in the middle of the morning?
Published in Blue Unicorn
This place is different
every time we come, new,
Old woods are eaten
larger in every pore, the grain
exposed more deeply.
Birds have forgotten the strain
of yesterday’s song in their wings,
the better to ride today’s wind.
The sea slips away with the sand
that would hold her, ensuring each tide
must come to a beach rearranged.
The waves, as well, we know
can only appear to be
exactly alike, yet we
and again, each time
thinking ourselves unchanged.
Published in The Gathering 12 2013-2014
You, yearling grizzly, orphaned early,
never taught to fish. You, thief,
marauder of camps, in your rights bent
on feeding your growing hunger,
survival carried always in your sights...
The shot was yet a sound on the meadow,
when no bird sang and insects
ceased their thrum.
With my father, I ran to see.
You, motherless youngster, lay
in the bush, so close at my feet,
your terror gone, your last breath still
escaping. I felt your warmth released.
Above the fleeting whiff of rifle
your heavy bear-scent slowly rose.
In the attar of your life I stood,
You, Bear, feared predator and revered:
some tribes wear your claws as amulets
or a necklace treasured,
your pelt as cover. But I was there;
I wear your name as brother.