Wind-weaver Tree-cleaver, rock-polisher, chimney-chaser, roof-whacker, flame-blazer, ember-whisker, hat-snatcher, tress-tousler, bone-shaker, cloud-changer, kite-grinder, puddle-shifter rose-rustler, daisy-dipper, blossom-blaster, tulip-swisher, dandelion-drifter, weed-whistler, sand-sweeper, beach-batterer, wave-wanderer, shell-singer, sea-scrambler, ocean-ogler, busy in Brooklyn, rambling in Reykjavik, dodging Dublin, rowdy in Rome, pouting in Prague, munching Mongolia, chewing Chernobyl, sweeping Siberia, ploughing the Pole, sifting the stars, winging to Venus, melting on Mars. Winds Winds so heavy today that pear trees are snowing, a blizzard among the tulips. Absurd not to give apple blossom a fighting chance, but there it is, the invisible violence of moving air not as bad as the vortex that sucked up Oklahoma yesterday and tossed cars and roofs around like the baseball cards we shuffled as kids, but the harsh armor of spring's warring climes, the sugary syrup of new warmth across the plains sparring with the pale sleet of winter retracing its steps over the lake which may never thaw again. We should have expected these little battles to grow bigger every year, their random cruelties slicing the sky with hidden knives. Caught unawares, we watch the clouds bleed purple gusts on unsuspecting buds below. Backscratcher As a child, I, the little Yankee from Jersey, would visit Betty, my aunt and godmother in New Orleans, for summers drenched in mosquitoes and melted popsicles. Unlike my mother, a drunk and a mean one at that, she let me run barefoot through the rough St. Augustine grass, walk to the store two blocks away with a handful of change to shop for white bread and root beer, and catch snails on the way, darting among the Seven Dwarfs in her manicured garden. Now, when backache threatens, I think of mornings down south, dewy with humidity, seven air conditioners rattling in the windows. I'd pad out of "my" bedroom and collapse into her arms. She'd already been up for hours brewing coffee, stirring pots of red beans and rice. But when we hugged, her long, tapered, red-lacquered nails would scratch my back right through the ragged cotton pajamas like the beaks of rare birds sent from heaven to spread comfort to the tortured below. It was a grand awakening to be loved like this, and now that she's gone to her grave with Parkinson's, diabetes, senility, and who knows what all else, I hope that some kind nurse at the hospital, or some dog-tired aide, sat by her bed, lifted her up, and scratched her back with fingertips soft as roses. Equanimity Today I tried balancing on one leg, eyes closed, as my knee therapist recommended. I do as I'm told, perching on my bad leg, my arms searching for yoga above my head, or like the walker on the tightrope over Niagara Falls, stretching sideways, waving my invisible pole. I wobble and weave, cheating now and then with a surreptitious blink. I imagine myself a tree, rooted firmly in the ground, the trusted earth holding me against freefall. I love gravity, its weight both friend and enemy, keeping me upright while opening its arms to age, worn cartilage and the atrophied muscle above the knee that used to take stairs two at a time. Some days are better than others. For now, I'll try the other leg, thinking of a heron in the reeds, sustained by nothing but air and high grass, tucked into itself and its own reflection. Fires Pentecost They huddle together in the upper room. Shivering, they speak of ordinary things: fishing, the weather, a broken sandal strap. They had followed the carpenter-king. A month ago, he hung on the hill, begging for water. Then he stepped from the tomb into dawn. He ate here among them, rode the bright cloud as surely as he rode the shaggy-eared donkey. Who are we? Why are we here? The wild wind clamors at the door, bringing flame and strange words, the foreign tongues of drunken revelry. But love, not wine, lives here, even for those who speak in different hues. Beyond the grave lies a world rich in blossom, fresh earth, blood not for wars but bread. After the winds die, silence shrouds the common space. While the rich count their coins, hunger asks, Now where are Your urgent little fires?