Grant Clauser

Morning Under the Osprey

You have to believe these things go on
without us, the wake of my kayak,
an osprey circling the willow cove
for bluegill or perch, and words
that sink their points into your shoulders.
You know how beautiful spring begins—
buds swelling into flowers all over the fields
and a scent like youth collapsing
from the ripe trees along the lake edge.
Shoreline lilies at their brightest
begin to become the background
as white petals drift away,
ghosts passing out of our lives.
You have to believe in ghosts,
the shuffling they make in leaves,
the trees they fill with fireflies
just to make the night sparkle.
Because the only thing between lake
and sky is trust, the kayak gliding
across water like a life suspended
waiting for weight to lift or sink
but either way keep cutting forward
across the lake, an osprey always circling
overhead, the gestures of flowers opening
and closing on the morning’s breath
and on the beach there’s someone waiting—
ghosts you choose to follow
or who will follow you.

Van Gogh’s Sunflowers

Van Gogh’s yellow sunflowers
are turning toad brown
because the lead in them
can’t stand the light.

On the first day of spring
I think of gardens,
the insistence of tiny seeds
to spread their palms
across the earth.

Before he stepped with pistol
into that field of poppies,
Van Gogh’s yellow-stained fingers
cupped his head, held
his own hands, hot and cold.

Decay always begins
at the root of things, paint
drying on the brush,
the fission of neutrons
into a night bursting
with colors.

The day always comes
when every sunrise
is a warning from the dark,
and every kiss
is a kiss goodbye.

So the things that kill us best,
kill us slowly,
roots pushing their fingers
through humus and rock,
foundations failing and crumbling.

Grant Clauser lives in Hatfield, PA, with his family, a garden and some goldfish. His books include Necessary Myths and The Trouble with Rivers. Poems and interviews have appeared in The Literary ReviewPainted Bride QuarterlyCortland ReviewAmerican Poetry ReviewSow’s Ear Poetry Review and others. He runs poetry workshops at Philadelphia’s Musehouse and blogs at