One little lonely moment on the train from Brisbane to the coast, and just like that

I am back on the train to Mount Koya
watching an old man at the station,
tending to the little gas lamp flames
that keep the points from freezing shut
while behind him, another man pulls branches
from the drying stack outside the shed, sings
and stokes the stove that keeps them both
from freezing in the air.
And here we are again —
hands sifting through a language
to describe two men tending to their fires
while I think about a cedar tree —
how it holds the fall of snow
and how a history is written in its rings.

Is there a name for the sound of snow
descending through the still?
Or the way a trail cut into a hill insists,
even as it fades and disappears, on being

I think I have spent a great deal of this life looking
for ways to leave the body.

For example-
I can walk until this trail disappears into the snow,
look up to cedars reaching up like prayers
and keep on walking

I can think of an old man at a train station
breaking branches for the fire,
hear them cracking into splinters,
and imagine writing on my ribs
the noun for snowflakes snagged
on cedar branches
as the man breaks prayers between his hands
and sings them to the air.

i want to believe in small things first :


that when my daughter stands
on the branches of the old apple tree
and moves her arms just like that
she is not pretending to be

but is

a bird


that the sound of a bird
mid-flight is nothing but vowels –
no lips, teeth, or tongue
to clutter up the air


that the day i fall out of myself
there will be one long
bird-song note that slows
as much as it needs to last

and no longer than that


that for now it’s enough
to lay in the sun like this
beside the tomato bushes
watch the corn stalks brushing above
and be an old dog

for some small sound to leave
the body