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           TANKA LIGHT

                                                                                                March 2001 edition


east wind
chills a mountain cabin
spring's slowness
I have taken no vow
yet the silence

neck stiff
how long I stood watching
the spiral of storks
add black to a cloud
then white

lilacs lean
along the faded barn
a missing door
the passageway
for bees



waxed petals
of red and yellow tulips
in a flower box
spring colors emerging
from a child's crayon

light years away
I see stars as they once were
a long distance
between what you are now
and my memories

in bold ink
on dad's "to do" list
number one
is not to call me
by my sister's name



I have to admit,
her silence makes me
feel low tonight;
even worse, there’s no moon
to keep me company.

The bare branches
of the maple reach out
to blue sky.
Where I stand with her
is far beyond my grasp. 

Pre-dawn light—
I imagine her
still asleep,
her hair on the pillow
tangled like my thoughts.



How the marsh is shaped
by long, rippling grasses;
Meandering through
this blue-green stream, side to side,
my canoe sways, too.

Listen, the stream speaks
gently of the endless way
it ever travels;
Even grasses kindly yield
coolness to our weary feet.

When my naked feet
entered the clear mountain stream
these bones knew winter;
Once, rooted in melting snow,
a thousand grasses flower.



It is delightful
as I walk on the clay path
across the meadow
I come upon a flower
remembered from childhood.

on the back porch
with a broken foot
in the spring breeze 
the first butterfly
comes and goes

conversation dies
at the year's end
just inside the doorway
tall paperwhites
become a dark shadow



her beauty
like this spring day
gives us a chance
to talk all about
the weather

she has twice
had to bring me back
to the garden to help—
how happy it makes her
when i stay

at the long light
it occurs to me
why would i want
to do more,  faster


ai li:

seed packet
in her hand
the window flower pot
and birds
all gone

a tree planted
the spade
of earth
in a dark shed

in her long poem
the scent of long dead roses
perfumed love letters and
the man who never was



he says 
he is my brother 
this stranger 
who phones 
once a year

numbers blink 
on the arrivals board 
over and over 
your plane 
long delayed 

you and I trapped 
in snow 
under a fallen tent -
the Rockies 
in July 



the moon
grown so whole
our love
descends as a cloud bird
nesting in my hands

a scent of leaves
lingers at the old sundial
in the spring gardens 
can i too be brushed with the peace
of this fragrant sun in my hands?

a blue dove's quiet call
among the pines . . .
i pause to watch memories
flutter through the shade


kirsty karkow:

early morning
a big crow settles
on the oak branch
to search the wall below
for the mouse trap's catch

each day
a golden sunrise
to observe
the wisdom of our elders
repeated in the young

slanted sun
long blue shadows grope
over tired snow
wistful thoughts reach for you
across so many winters


KAY F. ANDERSON:  (Wait for permission to use)

Two butterflies swirl up
from your beloved garden
straight up and out of sight.
Is it that one is leading
and your spirit follows?

I asked a waitress
if she had been adopted,
she looked so much like you.
But . . . “no,” she said, “sorry”
and so I must keep looking 

You said that you’d call
and I rushed in vain to the phone 
five times today.
Just now, I thought I saw
the stone dove statue flutter 



maple sap 
freezes halfway down the trunk 
changing my mind
i gather up my winter coat
for the Sally Ann

unfolding perfectly
again this year
the pink peony –
what deep longing to hold
my late mother’s hand

slow rising mist
in North Dakota hills
long lost images –
my heart a fast throbbing drum 
my tears join Native ghosts