Frederick Zydek (MFA, U of Washington) is a full-time writer. His poetry has appeared in The Antioch Review and The Journal and Poetry, among others.
They do not sing—the Aldermen,
the Water Bearers,
the old man of two souls
who carry him back
to the roots of the sea.
It is the women who sing.
They stand along the shore
wearing ashes in their hair,
red day beneath their eyes,
their arms filled with willows.
The icy moon is out.
The tribe's first dream
sleeps in the face of the totem.
They praise its enormous eyes,
light small fires beneath it.
They watch the burning pyre
until the moon goes under the sea
in small words. They wait
for gulls to wing their way
into a new morning.
Only then will they know
what the fog always remembers
when the souls of the old ones
wing their way into the song
the sky sing for them.
The Scent of Pepper Trees
When that old teaser, Kwatee,
changer that he is, dances
one step beyond winter's last dream,
the first small pods of pepper trees
will lift their fragile thistles
to the willing ways of the warming
season. Beneath their willowy skin
an old mystery will start its waking.
At such an hour the feather ways
of pepper trees seek their sacred identity
and begin filling the wing with the most
delirious scent in the forest.
It is the Moon of Frogs Returning
when the air fills with smells of maple
and mint, the infant aroma of unborn
leaves pushing their way towards light.