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Wood Ducks

Water be my comfort
Where the dune grasses wave in the wind,
and the curlew and willets cry
over the bleached driftwood
on the fog shrouded beach.

Water be my rainbow
and comfort my eyes in the glassy stream
and take my heart from the melting snows--
ice crystals dripping into rivulets,
rivulets into a stream down the mountain
and the stream into a still lake,
where a deer, in spring,
drinks from its own green reflection.

Water be my lantern
like an icicle holding winter light
or the green at the top of a blue wave,
breaking into a shimmer of sunset and sheer spray--
--multicolored diamonds.

Water be my memory
the way I was when I was a boy
and lay in the grasses beside the summer slough
and looked up dreaming into the waving willows
and the first bluebird I ever saw
flew over my face, flashing cerulean wings,
and a breast as orange as peaches.

Water be my mirror
The way I sought you in the moonlight
when the tide was out and
the tidal pools reflected the moon
and I counted the stars reflected in the water
where starfish clutched rocks next to sea urchins
who were as night-green as Luna moths.

Water be my beloved
as in your arms I have held my wife
where we swam naked together
the sun beaming a joy in life
shinning on the ripples of the place
where laughter broke the waters of our faces
as we surfaced with our eyes gleaming.


Barn Swallow. River and Sycamores

Water is like an eye that witnesses the earth,
as if it sees what happens and records it
reflected in the stream banks and islands,
caressing the earth with deltas, estuaries,
rivers, fogs, seas, rains and salt marshes.
It is like liquid air, the fluid breath of life
as if it sees what it reflects and holds it in
a moving brilliance of luster and light.
I seek its shores with raccoons
with deer on the beach
and with geese and swans
nodding into their own reflections.
Yellow Iris on the wetland edge
and a red dragonfly on its lip--
living ruby of flesh, not stone,
and silken wings. more alive than glass


Tundra Swans Over the Salt Marsh


Water is magic stuff, not Taoist or baptismal,
not cleansing "from" the world
but cleansing for the world.
Visible and invisible,
in light and shade,
it is a film of mysteries,
Not "otherworldly" mysteries
but mysterious actualities,
revealed in healthy, life giving goodness
unashamed of growth and green,
blue and aquamarine--
silver shinning, more intimate than air,
as close to my eyes as my mind--
a film of pure being---
the mirror of meaning, moving---
the virtual fluid of life becoming,
and as full of the fragrance of wonder
as flower petals floating on a dream
of what it is to be alive and joyous
and living in a world worth seeing.
The history of water forms in my own body
and flows into the depths of my mind.
I am this unsure movement.
I try to define water, and find it is all contexts
and cannot be defined "in itself"---
and that is why
water is likened to life, but yet
is still not a symbol of anything.


Blue Heron in the Bay

If the sky took shape on earth
and sought fish in the water
and could fly with wings
 that reach out to hold clouds---
It would be a blue heron.

If water had a shape like air
and could think and feel,
it would be a bird---
and hold the horizon between its wings
as weightless as the thought of peace.

And if air had a shape like water
and was conscious and intelligent,
it would be a bird---
like a tern or a cormorant,
or the graceful white pelicans
flying in perfect synchrony
as if their minds all flew
with eachothers wings
and freedom of thought
were shared in common between them.

If water could dance with air
and make love with the water surface
it would be like Western Grebes
running together, in tandem,
shoulder to shoulder,
across the glassy lake---
in a burst of joyful tenderness.

It is the genius of shorebirds, ducks and geese,
to have turned the dancing of water 
 into the music of flying air.




Water Into Air
(Mallards, Wood Ducks, Tufted Titmouse, Swallow, Canada Geese, White Pine and Cattail)


Pictures in water,
like the mind in life
holding the world in liquid embrace.
A delicate film the water spider rests on,
an orange leaf floating on the sky
algae like tiny flowers of an emerald necklace
around the neck of a submerged frog
its long legs relaxed in weightlessness.


Green Mirror

I was a sailor for some time in my youth
seeking to understand the beyond.
In months of travel on the inland seas
I saw the huge expanses, endless depths
infinite starry nights and sunrises
more radiant than symphonies.

But I could not conquer my loneliness.
I fed the birds that followed our ship
and like them, longed for land
and cherished faces again.
If only I too could fly home over the waters.
But humans are not well adapted
to long periods on water or to the extremes
 if the Arctic or the Marianas Trench
Ships, like monasteries, can become prisons.
My longing for home became so intense that
when I finally got off the ship
and saw some paper birch trees
I embraced them all,
falling beneath them
 into the yellow and orange leaves
to smell the earth again.
It was the sea that taught me love of the land..
Water is a paradox that both forbids and attracts.
It invited me and then held me back.
It is and is not what it reflects.

The monk tries to deny the body and nature
(as if nature could be denied! )
just as the sailor denies land
and eventually I denied both these options.
I denied the industrialized sea
of shipped commodities and oil spills
and the life denying seclusion
of those who seek death
"beyond the world".
I chose nature
rather than the life of the sailor and the monk.
I have no wish to be Master of the Universe, "Steward"
or transcendent overlord.
There is nothing beyond this world:
this world is miracle enough.
I am one part of it, grateful for the other parts.
I prefer to be homelessly at home
crossing the borders between biomes.

No. then---not the sea of romantic longing
that nearly killed my mother and brother
not that sea of oblivion where one drowns in dreams
but the real, non-human sea of horseshoe crabs,
godwits and  willets seeking sand dabs,
the joy of dolphins arcing out of the blue
and the bio-luminescent fish I saw a few times---
steelhead trout and ancient sturgeon
swimming in blue-green auroras
of microscopic moonlit plankton
like an ocean full of fireflies---
what amazement there is in existence!

For years I wanted to be a sea lion
and swim with a grace like that---
Like  tree swallows of the waves
 water swallows of the sea.
I could sit on lonely crags of rock
 and feel the sea spray
flying up in rainbow droplets
each drop with a little sun in it
Curtains of light, veils of chromatic wonder..
I could lie in a wetland lagoon
and feel the sun beat down on my belly.

Harbor Seal Colony


Or if I could be an otter
sleek and oiled, more lithe than a water cat
tumbling and spinning in and out of the kelp
or down the river bank sliding and playing
with my mate.

Or if I could be a Manta Ray,
that glorious fish-bird of the deep
(as penguins are bird-fish of the sea)
with wings larger than the Condor
flying elegantly through the seas,
occasionally breaching the surface
in a burst of enthusiasm,
where gravity above water
 makes it heavier than air
and it seeks again the freedom
to fly through the weightless deep.
Like a dark underwater Albatross
it glides on currents of the seven seas.

But I am not a Seal Lion, Otter or Manta Ray.
My identity is my own and it is  my love
of these animals that has made me
wish to be like them.
Love grasps more of what is loved
than mere study can know.
Endless studies are made to prove
the oceans are polluted, and overfished,
the great reefs are being destroyed
and the rivers suffer from destructive dams,
chemicals and human waste
and little or nothing has been done about it.
The Gulf of Mexico dying, wetlands destroyed
Manatee, Whales, Otters, fish and crabs threatened.
The rich will suffer, we are told,
if rare fish are not driven to extinction
and garbage is not dumped in the sea
and acid rains are not allowed to pollute lakes.
How worthless is a wealth
or the system that serves it
if this wealth depends upon driving
species to extinction or on
polluting rivers and oceans?
Why isn't more blame and derision
heaped upon these shameful paragons of "success"?
What madness of culture
creates a success that depends on extinction?
Who shall hold rivers and inland seas
as tenderly as the body of their sick husband or wife
and nurse them back to health?

Knowledge without love is
like land void of water:
empty and lifeless.
Knowledge without love
creates a land void of life.
How can one get someone
who refuses to open their eyes
to understand wonders they cannot to see?
How do we show them that
in polluting waters for profit
they pollute themselves?
How can we teach them to love a world,
born of water,
that all their knowledge has not grasped?

Water be my comfort,
I asked, earlier,
hoping to be soothed
and remembering how  it has soothed me before.
But I must question myself--- who will soothe the waters?
who will comfort the harm done to you?

Water be my rainbow, I asked---
but who reflects the colors of your health?

Water be my lantern---
but who will light your way to clarity?

Water be my memory---
But who will recollect the wonder that you were?

Water be my mirror
and show me the way to be better for you.

Water be my beloved
and let me come back to you
and return your generosity.



Sandpipers and the Pacific

There was no beginning where
"darkness was on the face of the deep"
no "brooding" over the "face of the waters",
no "uncarved block" prior to the "ten thousand things".
In the beginning were the faces of animals,
reflected in the face of the waters
and our face appeared in the midst of them.
Our face joined and parted
 from  the face of the silver-back Gorilla,
it joined and parted from the faces of Whales,
it merged and separated with the face of Gazelles,
 Frogs, Salamanders, Fruit Bats and Bees---
our faces in the waters merge and separate
 from the red eye of the White Tailed Kite,
 the eyes of Moose bathing in the mountain stream
its dewlap dripping,
and the face of the Redstart Warbler
drinking form its own reflection.
Once their faces were our faces
and we were one,
 united in the face of the waters
and even now, anyone who harms
 the animals and the waters
does injury to their own face
and the faces of all the others..

I have sought out the waters
because water is the mind of life
and the beginning was not then
but now, where a water drop hangs
on a red Blackberry leaf
where the Fox Squirrel swims across the river
its tail bobbing in the ripples.
In the beginning is today
where I can feel the world through the
Heron's yellow eye and partially see
the Dragonflies vision of twilight.
I have lifted my head up to the rain
like a Barn Swallow that skims the water's surface
and flies strait up into the raindrops
exulting in the shower.
In the beginning is now
and the Great White Egret
is bathing in gold light
and the waterfall is laughing with rainbows.

Great White Egret




Copyright 2002 Mark Koslow. All Rights Reserved.