Reflections on the Smell of Mint

I dry mints in my room.

Cat nip, bee balm,

The wild mint that grows

Roots wet in the lowlands

Prolific in spring.

I like the way they hang,

Leaves to the ground,

All in a bunch.

I like the rustle,

And when they crumble in my fingers…

I like the sudden fresh smell,

As if spring herself-

Storms in her train-

had stepped into the room.

I walk out into the Green World-

Black dog at my heels.

I am enveloped,

In morning mists-

Pierced by sun,

By bird song.

The Green World is my mother,

And my lover.

Surrounds me,

And penetrates me.

I hide from her for weeks-

Like a bear from the cold.

Yet she draws me out,

Envelopes me with shadows-

Pierces me with light.

‘Til I weep that-

Pure, brindled sight,

has seared my eyes.

Top of the World

I want to taste this world-

And the heavens too

I want to use the mountains-

As stepping stones.

I want to drink up rivers-

Let oceans fill me

I want to skip megaliths-

Across still bodies.

I want to hunt like a wolf-

Drink blood

Crack open bones-

To eat the red marrow.

I want to stand still as a tree-

Or a lonely rock

Let moss grow over me-

For thousands of years.

I want to find the lever-

That Archimedes sought

I want to stand at the top of the world,

Then step-

The Turtle

I sat by the pond, on an old gray dock that jutted out into the dark still water. The sky was gray and white, heavy overcast ceiling. The hidden birds were talkative, their tone conversational. My only companion was a wood duck, a drake by the shiny black green of his head, drifting complacently on unseen currents. I was reading a book of essays by Annie Dillard, which should always be read outside. A chainsaw occasionally roared in the distance, another machine, perhaps a lawn mower, even further off. A rain began to fall. It did not touch me yet and only announced its presence by concentric rings in the dark water, radiating outward.

I began to close my book, intending to head in to finish the chapter. I slid the crow feather I used as a bookmark back onto the page, the same color as the letters, and raised my eyes from the page. Something, some movement in the corner of my eye drew my gaze to a patch of water at the edge of the dock. There I was confronted by a snapping turtle, brown and knobby, his strong round limbs pushing him ponderously to the surface. He saw me, his eyes, ruddy brown gold, and mine made contact.

We stared at each other as he continued his ascent. His beak nose with its two little holes broke the surface. The stare was like a spell, holding us captive. He treaded water, watching as one blind hand scrabbled in a purse, looking for a camera that was actually in a jacket pocket.

I broke eye contact to look for it, and broke the spell with it. He waited until the camera was in my hand before pushing himself calmly down, quickly disappearing in to the black water until all that remained of his presence was a break in the greasy film that covered the pond. I looked at the picture I had taken. By the edge of the dock was a brown stain on the water, unrecognizable as a turtle. I laughed as I thought about excitedly showing this picture to my friends. I felt honored, though begrudgingly, as if a magician had stolen my watch.