Friday’s Passing Fancy/Poem: New Talk, Old Talk (for Craig)

We friends learning each other carry stories–

being told them, telling them ourselves–

and speaking for myself moving

like a thief to steal this or that one

from pockets of thin air–

and we trade one chapter for another

in the corner coffee spot: talk reveals things,

talk connects.

But I am in between the moments

as treetops gather and release

sweet bits of sun, gold gleanings of time.

Gratitude spills from our lips

while in me an ache drifts by, a pale feather.

Loss bleeds, though I say only that

a sorrowful message came early today.

Strange how one thing begins, another leaves off;

breathlessness coexists with breathing;

victory is won for some as others flail in darkness.

That one may have left the earth without

one’s hand in another’s–this thought stabs me–

and that hope is held close until there is nothing

brave enough to prop it up against emptiness,

so is abandoned:

this is not what I speak about.

That knowledge slips through a safety net

of words that holds fast the fragrant coffee shop

and moors me–and others–to the ordinary world.

But later on, when on my walk unspooling in the hills,

there are pines that offer themselves

as protection against wind’s wounding

and my legs and heart propel me to the crest,

November cold ripening, roughing my skin.

And as I pause in a swath of sunshine there

comes a whistle through a maze of branches

that holds, a moment, then releases your name.

But I hear it, feel it as I stand alone by the road,

and it’s like a passing train on a high ridge

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