Poplar Grove

There are places in the world to go
where old, golden spirits dance
quietly in the tingling cold,
places where the wood-warmed water
feels soft and slides over your skin
like the smell of burning incense,
a kind of steaming love
and the hint of an ancient koan
about fire and all the stranger gods,
while a gnarled willow tree wiles away
her time, repeating a wooden mantra
deep into the soggy earth, home
of yellow bishops and a constant song
about the silence of open spaces, about
what it feels like to close your eyes
and go beyond and beyond beyond
and beyond beyondness, all the way
back here

where the sun sets, followed by the moon
like a lost and pining lover
in a Karoo sky so clear you can see
the body itself, smell its likeness
to the willow tree wondering the waterways
and chanting her silver-tongued truth,
a soft bell in the velvet distance
and an echoed ringing into night.

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