Eden Falls

edenfallsphoto.jpg

It must be an ancient place,

the way the mountain has eroded,

maybe sacred once to one tribe or another

in a time when life was simpler, more elemental,

and still it feels like a sanctuary–cool, dark, and silent,

but for the soothing fall of holy water,

and the avian choristers’ anthem.

Translucent green leaves filter the sunlight,

dark branches like the leading

between colored pieces of stained glass

telling old stories too distant to easily believe.

Like an empty cathedral, a tranquil, reflective space

that fills with one’s own belief or doubt.

But these stones were never hewn by human hands;

there’s no need for a preacher’s pulpit or bishop’s chair,

or even the allusion to some lost paradise

from which this place takes its name,

because divinity comes here

to touch the earth, to breathe the air,

to mingle with the waters.

 

Copyright 2019

T. Allen Culpepper

 

I’m attempting to learn Danish, so just for fun (bare for sjovt), here’s my attempt at a translation into Danish:

Eden Vanfald

Det kan kun være en gammel sted,

på grund af hvordan eroderet bjerget,

måske hellige en gang til en stamme eller en anden

i dag da levet var enklere, mere elementære,

og stadig er det som en helligdom—

kølig, mørke, og næsten stille,

selvom den beroligende falde af helligt vand,

salmen sunget af fugle.

Gennemsigtig grønne blade diffunderer sollyset,

deres mørke grene som bly

mellem stykker af farvet glas

at fortæl historier for lang væk til at tro nemt.

Som en ledig kirke, et roligt rum som fyldes op

med mands egen tro eller tvivl.

Men disse sten blev aldrig skåret

af menneskers hænder;

der er ikke behov for prædikants eller biskops stol,

eller for allusionen til nogle tabte paradis

hvorfor den tager dens navn,

fordi kommer guddommelighed her

til at røre jorden, til at trække vejret i luften,

til at blande med farvandet.

 

 

 

Vancouver

The natural beauty reigns, of charms the queen,

in this western city alive and teeming,

           between the mountains and the sea.

The beauty queen’s Crown rises along with Seymour,

the route to the royal court across the Lion’s Gate beams,

           between the mountains and the sea.

Staking its claim over the Harbour, like that opera house down under,

Canada Place spreads its white and sail-like wings,

           between the mountains and the sea.

Burrard vistas from the winding seawall circling Stanley Park,

with its Lost Lagoon, and English Bay sunsets from the beach,

           between the mountains and the sea.

Ferry rides over blue waters to Granville and Victoria islands;

on foot or bike or boat, its sights gleam, its air so clean,

           between the mountains and the sea.

Copyright 2019

T. Allen Culpepper 

Possum Portrait

A reluctant subject, anxious of pausing

her foraging for some tasty insects to snack on,

a female Virginia opossum sniffs once

to proof the absence of threat, and then

sits up in the front yard, her ghost-white

face glowing in the tree-filtered lamplight

seeping weakly into the pre-dawn darkness,

the same face that peered from Algonquin woods,

the same black eyes that scientists say

watched dinosaurs live and die, that

saw past the dinosaurs and Algonquins,

past the settlers and builders of cities.

 

Although her kind have suffered their losses,

to coyotes and dogs, to redneck hunters

with shotguns, to the noisy machines

hurtling with ungodly speed down streets

and highways; the species has survived,

virtually unchanged, and death to her

is only a game that she has often played

and so far won. She might climb a tree

to survey her options, might enjoy

a starlight swim if the opportunity

presents itself, but she will not run away

from death; she will walk, slowly,

at her own pace, taking another

solitary journey, and if death chooses

to follow her, that is the business of death,

not of possums, to whom death is only

a trick of last resort that sometimes

works and sometimes doesn’t.

 

My particular possum, very much alive

and grown tired of posing, raises

a four-finger wave, idly licks her palm,

and ambles off to finish her scavenging and find

some dark, safe place to sleep the day away.

 

Copyright 2016

T. Allen Culpepper

Jay

jay

Perched in the tree,

he’s a subtle marvel

in his morning coat

of blue and grey,

camouflaged among the leaves

by his likeness to the patches

of sky visible between them;

but reticent only

in resting appearance,

he squawks his displeasure

at the idling cat

he dives to peck:

touché!

 

Copyright 2016

T. Allen Culpepper