Three poems from Scanning for Tigers

Dusting With The Cat


Her sinewy self, her mood, allows us our

game.  I hold her loosely round the ribs 

just back of the forelegs.  We trace

figure eights and each

begets another.  Her purring revs,

spun by turns into a vocal gleam.

She doesn’t care that she’s a rag, that 

dust has her.  We’re locked in the luster of

movement, building layers like a pearl.

We’re drunk on the wine of slow motion a

certain speed achieves.  What speed I

cannot say, though the fluent cat does— 

her song spliced with pauses

where the orbits intersect.

We’re burnishing our years into the

surface of my desk: her proverbial nine,

my uncertain number.

But a swinging cat cares not for count,

living for sensation, and a  

wild woman always believes

she has more time. 

Icarus In Reverse

See me sucked from sea’s brine, cry

returned to my mouth pulls in preceding 

shriek that inhales gasp before

then there’s no more nor do my wings

betray but pluck treacherous pinions—here, there,

snatched with a marvelous fury from air

feathers fly dart-wise into wax, bigger quills

double-secured by thread considered in

construction and swift as water winks at sun

wax cools to capture shafts as

threads manic and precise continue

counter-lash and knot.  Don’t stop—let me rise

tumbling upward to grace, gaining back 

errant feathers that home like arrows to

target--their bronze boy regaining control—There!

There’s the wing beat where first I faltered.

Now I soar swoopily backward, mouth open

in glee, dropping altitude till I beat by my 

father’s side, passing on our left

Samos and Delos, while on our right Lebynthos whizzes

by as below ploughman and shepherd share brief

cameos, one pointing, the other leaning on his

staff lest he fall down as we flap

snap/snap to the island.  See us touch earth, toe to heel, my

father unkiss me, untake my face in his hands,

tears race up his cheeks.

He says: “…safe be will you and near me Keep.  

.them melt will heat the high too if…” and so on,

all that he says lost to the speed-slur of the tape

that pauses only if you do.  Don’t pause—let our 

efforts be shorn from the footage, clipped 

till we stand yearning at cliff’s edge.  You’ll 

sense how time clambers with us in our descent,

handhold by foothold, our labors 

collapsing inward, crazed and intent. 

I beg you, hurry.  Again, Minos imprisons us.

Faster!  Let the thing be done.  I prefer

this grounding to the flying.  Prefer my 

father’s anguish to my own dying.

The Muskrat

While I stood watching, the water began to well,

yielding up circle after circle, and presently

the sorcerer rose sleekly from beneath

and broke the surface.  Not the end of the spell

but the outset, beguiled by the way the dark

head plied the blacker surface and the back’s

bit of island followed wherever it led.  From the

bank above, I spied down.  I had embarked

without knowing upon my own erasure.  Gone

into ripples ringing outward. Dipped in bliss.

Water like ink held me in a world unwritten.

The buoyant one shimmered and shone.