Author 82 Posts
Isaac Lewis

Isaac Lewis

Joy Harjo

Ah, Ah
      for Lurline McGregor

Ah, ah cries the crow arching toward the heavy sky over the marina.
Lands on the crown of the palm tree.

Ah, ah slaps the urgent cove of ocean swimming through the slips.
We carry canoes to the edge of the salt.

Ah, ah groans the crew with the weight, the winds cutting skin.
We claim our seats. Pelicans perch in the draft for fish.

Ah, ah beats our lungs and we are racing into the waves.
Though there are worlds below us and above us, we are straight ahead.

Ah, ah tattoos the engines of your plane against the sky—away from these waters.
Each paddle stroke follows the curve from reach to loss.

Ah, ah calls the sun from a fishing boat with a pale, yellow sail. We fly by
on our return, over the net of eternity thrown out for stars.

Ah, ah scrapes the hull of my soul. Ah, ah.

– Joy Harjo

Andrew Wyeth

The Intruder
Andrew Wyeth, in later years.
First Mowing
In The Doorway
Hay Ledge

Kobayashi Issa

In this world, we walk on the roof of hell
Gazing at flowers

– Kobayashi Issa

Jim Harrison

The hardest thing for me to accept was that my life was what it was everyday.

– Jim Harrison, from Everyday Life: The Question of Zen

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A row of pigeons nestle on a streetlight, all in a line like muddy popcorn on a string – a dumpy Christmas decoration. From the office window they look warm in the cold fog. The whole scene would be better with snow, but the snow hasn't come yet and the cold damp reigns in mist over the season.

The pigeons are greeted by a friend who jumps into a small gap in the ranks, rustling his wet feathers and nodding to his mates. One large and grizzled pigeon on the sloping arm of the streetlight takes off. Perhaps there is a pigeon rule for the polite number of cooing friends per streetlight. I'd like to meet whoever spends their life trying to figure that out.

The traffic grinds past below the pigeons. In typical fashion, I am at the office past rush hour. The pigeons look down on the traffic like cameras, judging the poor taste of lonely commuters, unloading on all the Range Rovers, glad to be out in the weather and happy together instead of cramped in traffic and large cars alone.

I am stuck halfway up the stairs staring out the office window at a back alley, a streetlight, and traffic, halfway between the snack I just grabbed and my desk. Instead of finishing the stairs, I am finishing pigeon thoughts to myself, lamely pretending the pigeons are sizing me up from their damp perch.

The stairwell door opens below me and I start, taking my eyes off the birds and my feet up the stairs. Perhaps the birds will sit on my shoulders now, cooing their haiku into my ears as I work, encouraging me with small reminders of my insignificant workaholic flailings, reminding me to change my shirt tonight, to look up, to wonder.

Originally appeared in Nature Writing