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Winter, 2005

Phyllis Holliday

Four Poems

The Changed Friend

You were turning into a hog.

I didn't want you to. I
Liked you just the way
You were. The last thing
You said, before your snout
Became gray pink and your
Bristles changed gray brown
Was, "We all must change."
And, "Don't let the past
Make all your decisions."

When I am going downhill
Past the asparagus and
The sheds, I hear you snort.

The Bears

I need the bears.
I need the bears with
Weedy thick coats and yellow
Curved claws and long teeth.
I need bears
In a circle around my house;
Need them to rear
And roar and leave large prints
Of bear anger and bear heart
Around my house.

I need the deer.
I need their yellow eyes;
Their careful foot prints
Which could be music on a staff
In snow; the only music
They leave behind, being
Dancers not singers.

I need the bears and deer,
Jackrabbits, porcupine, coyotes.
I need them around my house.
A terrible fight
Comes to my house this winter.
I need some-one to talk to.


Power of healing
Power of the throne
Power of jade earrings
And horses, many red horses
In a cloud of yellow dust
On the rim of the world
Of the hidden hives and honey
Of the hives hidden high over
Blue and green water with
Bright cataracts and hand
To hand climbing
Past the power
Of the mountain bear; power
Of Spanish earrings
Power of medals, pentagrams
Star of David, Saint Jude
The power of a dying woman
Of a living woman
Of a man with a piece of paper
Power of signature
Power of dignity
Which is among the horse chasers
The honey hunters, the craftsmen, goldsmith
The silversmith, the harnessmaker
The bootmaker
With power and dignity, the grower
And harvester of strawberries
Yams, corn, apples, wheat. Power
In a little ring
Power of a white butterfly
Over a green wheatstalk
Of the dark, of the red moon
And the glass grinder, the
Mirror maker, the power
Given over, doubled, not held
The power taken out of a trembling hand
The power given to
The living woman from the dying woman
The power of the green bud
The child by the sea, that child
The power of a mountain lion cub
The power of the moment, that very moment
When a man gives the reins of a great horse
Over to the young boy and the boy
Sits easily upon the horse
And holds the reins, neither slackly
Nor too close to the hand
For the power of a great horse
Is weighed in the holding of reins
And also the young girl
Light as a butterfly on a green stalk
Holding the same measure of power
Equal to the great horse, a red horse
With a dark mane
The power of purchase
Which is in grain and measure
To the tokens of small powers
Weighed together; the weight of gravel
And a road, a place under wheels, another power
In the footpath, the broken trail, the power
Of walking in an unmapped place
A holder of power in the stones
The water, the water animals
And the wanderer
With the power of wandering; the holder
The power of keeps; the living
The power of the dead, the singer
All power said and unsaid; the unsaid
Raining upon fire and the sea; the said
A craft, as there is the speech of the
Hunters of horses and honey, the song
In the power of the singing.

White Pines

White pines
in their bark
needles yellowing
and making different feet out of the ones
We have
like the feet of deer
who also walked there
Or jackrabbits
with faces like mules
Jackrabbits with strong teeth
Having been
In the white pine forest and writing
I cannot take you
It is gone
It was never quite there at all
A place fabulous
And the deer
unable to say
what is
Written all over their way of leaping
And any-one
Who walked there
Got into a fable
Loggers with boots
Ranchers half a mile away from the runaway gelding
People we misnamed and they took those names and laughed
the ardent jackrabbit
the sullen cow
the gods Coyote
And Raven
famous woven rugs in museums have the pattern
Of the floor of the pine forest
A yellow and sand colored
of the sun
Coyote laughing at puppy-dog who was
No god
Raven, stern and wiser than the night
end of it all
I cannot take you there
It is gone
flew over, saying
You cannot keep this place
Fooled Raven
Such a place keeps in one way
Go there
Coyote will laugh and Raven will fly over again
But if
You are alone
Raven cannot make all things dark
For I
Did not say
the Deer are gods
They are
In dark places
They keep the sun
I go under Raven shadow knowing