Above the concourse, from a beam, A little warbler pours forth song. Beneath him, hurried humans stream: Some draw wheeled suitcases along Or from a beeping belt or purse Apply a cell phone to an ear; Some pause at banks of monitors Where times and gates for flights appear. Although by nature flight-endowed, He seems too gentle to reproach These souls who soon will climb through cloud In first class, business class, and coach. He may feel that it's his mistake He’s here, but someone ought to bring A net to catch and help him make His own connections north to spring. He cheeps and trills on, swift and sweet, Though no one outside hears his strains. There, telescopic tunnels greet The cheeks of their arriving planes; A ground crew welcomes and assists Luggage that skycaps, treating bags Like careful ornithologists, Banded with destination tags.
Toward the Winter Solstice
Although the roof is just a story high,
It dizzies me a little to look down.
I lariat-twirl the cord of Christmas lights
And cast it to the weeping birch’s crown;
A dowel into which I’ve screwed a hook
Enables me to reach, lift, drape, and twine
The cord among the boughs so that the bulbs
Will accent the tree’s elegant design.
Friends, passing home from work or shopping, pause
And call up commendations or critiques.
I make adjustments. Though a potpourri
Of Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Jews, and Sikhs,
We all are conscious of the time of year;
We all enjoy its colorful displays
And keep some festival that mitigates
The dwindling warmth and compass of the days.
Some say that L.A. doesn’t suit the Yule,
But UPS vans now like magi make
Their present-laden rounds, while fallen leaves
Are gaily resurrected in their wake;
The desert lifts a full moon from the east
And issues a dry Santa Ana breeze,
And valets at chic restaurants will soon
Be tending flocks of cars and SUVs.
And as the neighborhoods sink into dusk
The fan palms scattered all across town stand
More calmly prominent, and this place seems
A vast oasis in the Holy Land.
This house might be a caravansary,
The tree a kind of cordial fountainhead
Of welcome, looped and decked with necklaces
And ceintures of green, yellow, blue, and red.
Some wonder if the star of Bethlehem
Occurred when Jupiter and Saturn crossed;
It’s comforting to look up from this roof
And feel that, while all changes, nothing’s lost,
To recollect that in antiquity
The winter solstice fell in Capricorn
And that, in the Orion Nebula,
From swirling gas, new stars are being born.