Burgoyne Bay

Out of light a dove is born–

pure innocence returns to the swirl

–Pablo Neruda

That day on the farthest point,

our bodies nestled into a rocky ledge

under the firs and Garry oaks,

the ragged face of Mount Maxwell above,

we could almost believe in the absence of darkness.

White fire ignited the waters of Sansum Narrows

with such brilliance we were forced to shut our eyes,

light and warmth quivering into our faces and hands.

Too soon the sun slipped into the dark ridge

over the mountain, a grey veil thrown

onto the waters and everything around us.

Yet in the gathering blues as we climbed the hill

the sky cracked open, the sun blazed through,

lit up the green lamp of the forest

with its wild love and then vanished.

Between Worlds: Last Days of August

I walk through matted grass in the fields,

bent thistle and blackened nettles scratching my legs

while the creek shows its dark belly after weeks

of no rain, flowers in the gardens lose their blooms

and the sun hides behind a milk-white sky.

And in the garden where there are no names,

a crack opens in the mantle of time.

I peer in, see nothing but space and light.

Questions of what’s real or illusion fall away,

words float up then disappear,

only this breath taking me where I need to go

as the maples shimmer in the hot breeze,

the pond sinks into its black body,

new buds inch upward on the rhododendrons

while their petals darken into the ground.

We live between worlds now,

neither past nor future our true home–

being here

what we’ve come for.

Lorraine Gane (c)2014 The Blue Halo

The Whole Night Sky

Our faces pinned to the black quilt of night,

small fires blazing thousands of light years away

but visible to our eyes: the Big Dipper’s bright cup,

the knight of Orion and his star-studded belt,

the red helmet of Mars, Empress Venus in her white silks.

Yet a part of us searches for what we can’t see,

especially tonight by the car, cold wind against our cheeks

as you tell us to look at the faint triangle in the east

where all I can divine is a black empty net,

my eyes not trained in navigation like yours or the Hawaiians’

who sailed in reed boats hundreds of years ago over oceans

under the stars, some say as far as our west coast.

Now we look for Polaris, inching two fingers left three times

from the point off the tip of your finger, our celestial travels

complete while new constellations grow in hidden galaxies

under the whole night sky of my skin

Lorraine Gane©2014 The Blue Halo

The Wedding Veil

for my mother (1924-2014)

Nothing here means anything now,

she says while I pull out old blankets,

baby clothes, crocheted doilies and her wedding veil

wrapped in a clear plastic bag.

Yet the next afternoon as I unfold the veil

over the bed, her voice softens. It was so beautiful,

I’m afraid it has some moth holes,

her numb fingers gently touching the yellowed mesh,

then the white satin band shaped in a heart

that crowned her dark hair sixty-seven years ago.

Meaning now returned to the veil, she asks

if I’d like to keep it, but wanting to hold on

and let go, I tell her I can’t decide.

A year later I find the veil in her dresser by the window,

bring it to her new home where nurses check her every two hours.

I fit the band on my head and arrange the folds

over my shoulders as I did thirty-five years ago

when I danced around the house in her nuptial dress.

It looked better before, she says soberly and sensing

what she means I pick up her wedding photo, place it

in her hands, and say, Yes, this is how it should be worn.

Lorraine Gane©2014 The Blue Halo

The Shining

Early morning in the forest

two fawns browse on wobbly legs in the underbrush,

look up in my direction with ebony eyes,

then back down to the ground.

One fawn steps across the path and then circles back

towards its mother on the ridge watching intently,

while the other, startled at the sound

of squawking geese near the creek,

folds down on all fours by the edge of the path,

white-speckled back trembling as I tip toe by.

Later, I see the same light around you,

and deep in the mouths of purple irises

that afternoon at Burgoyne Bay.

After dark you talk of your father’s final day

seventeen years ago, how you held his hand

for hours after he took his last breath

and when you ask if I’m afraid of death, I tell you no,

remembering the fawns that morning,

how the light haloed their new-born bodies

and washed the darkness from my eyes

–from The Blue Halo, Leaf Press, 2014

The Way Light Enters This World

Dark clouds in every direction

but the island before us arched in rainbow light,

one side of the strait to the other.

From the top deck the light grows into my eyes,

wind hard on our faces

till we move behind glass and steel.

Awe is the salve that will heal our sight,

messages encoded in fern, cedar, sky,

the way light enters this world and is gone

from our eyes yet lingers still,

like those violets, greens, browns, yellows

I see now, six colors in all.

Light passes through a curtain of rain you say,

prisms hold seven colors in their rays,

questions of the heart answered

without knowing the questions,

your face washed in softness

and what grows wide in this light

lives at the apex of our breath as we stand here together,

warmth of your arm against mine,

green shores drawing closer, last sheen of violet fading.

–from The Way the Light Enters, Black Moss Press, 2014

Letter from Japan

Even days after the waves broke over us

I could still feel the tremors under my feet

while helicopters beat their black wings above

and sirens screamed through the streets.

I left my shack for my friend’s living room–

we ate by candlelight, told stories

and slept side by side across the floor.

During the days we cleaned one another’s houses,

stood in line for water, watched the news

on car navigation screens.

There was no looting or panic,

we lived on instinct pared back to essentials

this landscape one of strange parallels:

houses all rubble in some neighborhoods,

futons drying in the sun in others.

Old men in green hats went door to door

checking to see if everyone was all right,

people walked their dogs as though this were

the most ordinary thing.

One day, back at my shack,

someone left food and water at the door

and people kept saying this is how it used to be

in the old days when everyone helped one another.

But it was the beauty that lingered:

the quiet of the streets at night without cars,

the mountains of Sendai silhouetted in the crisp evening air.

Even the night sky looked different,

brimming with stars when before we could only see a few.

So when my brother asked if I felt small in all these events

I told him: this birthing is hard, and yet magnificent.

from Beauty and Beyond: Songs of Small Mercies, 2012

The Poppies

Autumn Rains

Silence Gathering in Blue Air


Time, Patience and Beauty

Among the Big Trees

Soul Food