Isolation sonnet, 10

Out of the white noise of a box fan shushing away summer heat
hours on end comes the strain of violin whispering elusive notes to me
until I listen more closely and the melody is gone; out of the glare
of relentless July sun emerge a thousand Seurat points of hue,

lime, lavender, pale pink of the petunias in the pot on the stoop, dancing
in a texture in the sky until focus brings them back to the mundane blue
of the child’s question; out of the vague vertigo of lying down mid-afternoon
comes a sense of the million worlds in orbit about each other, no

center to be understood, ordered only by the invisible whims of gravity
and chance. I have taken her kindnesses and carefully sifted from them
an ash that I will cup greedily in my hands until the evening breeze
kicks up and threatens to carry it away. The trees outside the window
begin to toss their leaf-shaggy branches the way restless horses
toss their manes when they sense trouble but don’t know what

Isolation sonnet, 8

Cynical the human view of this land manifestly
our land now aside from there being so much yellow 

now telling the story of life spreading its greenly
but imperfectly formed self around and above my ear

if sky can be blue and carry itself as well
as one might expect a medium to, the clusters of asters
in the culverts are constellations needing
no name, just listening to birdsong with an unpracticed ear

an aspiring but wholly amateur translator, I know
so little about the languages I’m listening so hard to,
still I grow to believe there is method in chaotic improvisation of
mockingbird, the changeable pattern of calls from

crows on station in treetops, jay’s rusty-pulley shriek cutting
through morning, or the forlorn cheep of hungry finch on branch.

9, Comet NEOWISE

We wind our way down to the lakeside as dusk begins to fall, looking
for signs in the sky the tv and internet experts have told us to expect. First we stop 

by the reformed temple out in the country, unsure where exactly to look
among the usual dazzle and emerging disarray of distant suns, of vague 

glow from nearby towns and the last of the set sun, except I did study
several sky maps before we set out so I should have an idea where to find 

that smudge. Then farther down to the park by the shore. The last of the sunset,
a blue somehow full of peach and tan, makes the water bright as if from within. 

Those experts told us that astronomers told us not actually to expect much, even as
they published beautiful professional long-exposure photographs of the thing 

in all its horse-tailed glory, multi-limbed complexity of dust and ion, great chunk of ice
backing its way out of the solar system faster than any thing any of us has ever known, 

into a lightless void we think oh sure we can imagine — we’ve all blindly
walked into a nightstand getting up to pee in the night, eyes full of darkness, right? —

but which, no, no, we shouldn’t kid ourselves, is so much more deeply, darkly, alien, and alone.