Roberta Bienvenu

Sleeping Late in Fog

My black dog still coiled in his sleep,
the sparse old spruce and his neighboring birch
blotted against the damp. We are in a cloud.

Now and then I hear an apple thud
to the ground. Now and then I open my eyes.
I have forgotten what the day will bring,
the present clay. The straw and wattles.

Birds are flocking up
to leave. I hear them rising.
The screens are filled with mist.


Essentials, Catalpa

It surprises me
on this familiar road,
how the tree I knew
by its tremendous heart-shaped leaves,
white blossoming, orchid
litter, has become
this single bole, dividing
halfway up, one side branching
halfway up again. A simple shape,
off center, rising towards a symmetry
of twigs. Only two dry brown pods
near the top still hanging on,
and all around, in the air
between branches, along
grooved bark, a powdery bronze
touches November fog with light.
Something joyous, this unveiling.
Like an old man and his slow dying,
smiling until the laughter comes.


For Instance Stars

Three sunflowers in a green vase
deep brown faces fringed with gold
openness so sincere a presence in the room
all night I dreamed of them and wanted
to bring them to a friend who is lost
in anger and full of defenses
the heron flapping down the valley
trying to land knows his own nature
his eye unfaltering his beak sharp
the mountain arises still cutting the sky
with its mass of darkness
while to the south fully themselves
inhaling exhaling shape-shifting
clouds make no compromise


Small Granddaughter Thinking

Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Ava asks.
What can she be thinking?
or is she asking if I also have a flurry of thoughts in my head?

Fog fills the valleys and drapes the mountains.
Because I live here, I know there are houses
in the valleys and on the hillsides.
I know there are people inside, probably talking,
listening to the radio, moving around.
Perhaps they feel at home
muffled in gossamer silence.

Yesterday, snow geese settled the broad valley,
hundreds of them, a white lake sparkling,
a perfect oval, which lifted all at once,
a horizontal spiral, a galaxy
rising, circling toward the tree line,
where, breathless as a school of fish,
the shimmering turned vertical,
two tremulous screens sliding past each other,
back and forth and silver weaving,
and then again the spiral hovering
inches above the farther field,
and one by one the birds came fluttering down.


Roberta Bienvenu

I practice t'ai chi and zazen, but mostly I walk a great deal, read, write and paint watercolors.

I live in Northern Vermont.