by Norma Cole

Norma Cole

Along the moraine and the Carolinian forest
maples had already begun to turn red

in those days people wrote memory
in books not sticks, singing sometimes

I live in the country, sometimes
I live in town or in a dream

like state, that’s tiger to you, a big
heat wave, many days remaining

until the end of this year, walking
the land, summer grass and spadesful

of earth, a rectangle, sun on it
just that


It’s just that
peridot is
your birthstone
but your
mystical Tibetan
birthstone dating
back over
a thousand
years is


cuts through
illusion, atoms
strong covalent bonding
no form
no fear
magma, eruption


And on that day
from your window
the steel heart
red ratchet and pawl
a fixed arc
chained to the hoist of
the working arm
horizontal jib
on the mast
in the sky


By far
the best
seen through a
screen, so many
so long
carpels tough as nails
surviving ice ages
continental drift


rose mallow
worn behind your
left ear
changing and preserving
wrapped in tiger skin
demon slayer
holds its color
even in the hottest
summer days


Sun in rips and starts
ascending ragas
for rippling,
spinning sasheen
to wrap
and swaddle

Woven moonlight
pulled by hand from earth
linen from line
or Nile where
flax grew
exceedingly soft threads
irregular shapes
peculiar as tigers’ patterns
no two stripes alike

blooms perseverance
the teaching unfurling
a block print tiger
alert, incised
by a table
near a drum
on a carpet
revived from
the sealed cave
in Dunhuang

Fine-grained, watertight
catkins, wings, heart-shaped
leaves, silver shadow
will ignite from
the smallest spark
branches rest
during the night
birch bark fragments
found at the site

Did you plant
the ivory silk
lilac, its broad
panicles appearing
in early summer
its bark like
black cherry and
like the wolf willow
part of the olive
family tree?

white-tailed deer
a large brown
moth, a cicada
shedding its skin
the impossibility
of repetition
of one
water lily
on the Credit River

Descending ostinato
in the seventh movement
glass harmonica
cues for the entrance
of a private
morning ascending
catches on the figure of
a feather on an old t-shirt
a city
named for a reed

Tiger runs wild
waning crescent
28% or 29% visible
not many images
illuminated crescent edge
casts long shadows
seen from earth, the moon
getting closer to the sun
can’t be directed

mound, bank
kneeling and arranging
tugging on your breath
hazel poles or stakes
no hill overlooking
the sea, placeholder
filled with treasure

Last updated November 29, 2022