Poems by Christine Horner

 

                  

                       Awakenings

          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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

                  Farm Woman

       (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

for this.

 

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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

          Mendocino Revisited

            Published in Blue Unicorn  

 

 

This place is different

every time we come, new,

wind-washed, sea-beaten.

 

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

 

return again

and again, each time

thinking ourselves unchanged.

 

 

 

 

 

 

                               Bear

                         an homage

    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,

anointed.

              

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.

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