Emily Strauss** has an M.A. in English, but is self-taught in poetry. Over 130 of her poems appear in dozens of online venues and in anthologies. The natural world is generally her framework; she often focuses on the tension between nature and humanity, using concrete images to illuminate the loss of meaning between them. She is a semi-retired teacher living in California.
Poem at Lee Vining Creek
Another stream, another page—
I listen again, memorizing
the bursting, rushing water that
trips over sticks, stone
steps, finds its way around
this sound I sleep with
river surrounded by aspen
and pine, dusty mesquite,
towering crags of fractured
granite rising thousands of feet
but it could have been placid
meadows, dun hills or snowy
ledges. The river itself
makes music and the inevitable
birds add their notes in the willows.
** I travel outdoors a lot and alone, and often try to camp near a stream. They are all the same in a way, but each different in its setting and views. I cherish each experience and wanted to write about both sameness and difference.
The owl prepares for sleep before sunrise
the forest still obscured in gray light
he settles on his thick branch, fluffs
his feathers clean, calls out to his rivals
of the night's kill, mouse and vole taken,
forgive him, for himself and two
fledglings not ready to hunt, his soft
white body swooping in silence, great
claws hold tight, the pale ghost stalker
sees each tiny body beneath the redwoods
there is no hiding, and lifts the death-
throe carcass to the wide nest, it's instantly
torn to bits, forgive their carnivorous
ways, the chicks appeased he flies
again, his morning story says.
**I recently camped in the redwoods of Northern California and heard an owl, though I couldn't see it among the branches. I imagined its call as telling the forest around what had happened. Owls are such silent white, huge birds.
Action of the Mind
A figment of the action of the mind:
deer bedded in the yellowing grass
of an afternoon all face south, quiet
in the late hot sun, their inaction
vivid— tan on gold waiting for
cooler air to overcome the alfalfa.
**I recently attended a writing workshop and heard this line, about "action of the mind". I wondered what it meant and imagined this interpretation, an action of simply noticing, a quiet action, so to speak.
namo tassa bhagavato...