"Yew Tree" Photograph by Richard Heiman
There's a fog round the yew tree. As if the mists of Hag's Head could rise sudden from the bark and suck you from your toes up, up and over the sea in a coracle of forget. Only the memory of lead holds you groundward. Only invoking a Name keeps you from sinking into that black loam, drawn like a dowser's rod to watery sleep.
One thousand five hundred yews make a hedge maze. One thousand more make a journey. A yew sprang once from the grave of a poet's daughter. Its branches yearned far for another's, planted in her lover's corpse. At St. Mary's churchyard a gale carried leaf, twig and roots twined with bones to the turf. Thirty burials fed that old green man, thirty saints sang for his dying.
Each grove hides a blue-painted priest in its shadows, where dead wood rebirths and shoots gather in deep-mouthed skulls. Every nest of a songbird, left bare in the yew boughs, gives rise to the rarest of trilling. Every prayer chanted soft in the shade of the yew is answered with whispered amens.
In hoc signo vinces_300 res_wind effect by Richard Heiman
Signs of a May Morning
Chalk etches across a gem-spring sky. Tight lines,
cottoning just a little at the margins. Look at the contrails—
Kindergartners freeze mid-skip and stare. Kids jailed in capture-the-flag
follow my gaze. Two vapor paths bisect, a perfect right angle.
The base of the long one runs eastward. Up slope, toward the high meadows.
The groundskeeper starts his mower. I check my stopwatch,
whistle the game over. Silver wings flick bright and off at 45000 feet,
gifting their cruciform. In hoc signo vinces, I breathe.
Richard Manly Heiman lives on the west slope of the Sierra Nevada. He works as a substitute teacher, and writes when the kids are at recess. His work appears in Dappled Things, Bop Dead City, After the Pause, and elsewhere. His URL is www.poetrick.com