Sometimes there is no poem within reach.
You look for bounty and see dust;
despite splashes of color and light
there surfaces a rock hard notion
that the billions of places where people rise up
and lie down meet each bone and spirit
with denial and pain, prayers as ash on the tongue.
Leftover dreams are torn into dark ribbons,
and time is not a deep enough well to bury regret.
One cannot wear dark ribbons a whole life;
one cannot have bones that cry out
and a spirit that goes mute forever.
Wells overflow, time is curtailed–then what?
It is so much to ask.
So it is that a vagabond poem pauses
in its evolutions and locates
a heap of sorrows and it roots around,
finds a fissure, the loose seam,
an unlocked trap door
and makes itself at home.
It opens curtains and windows
so the sky can parade its splendor
and birds dive in and slip out trilling.
It shuffles debris and braids
a quilt of discarded pieces
as if they were shining silk or clean wool
and then carries its bulk to a resting spot. Lays it out.
The poem knows ways to make a hollow habitable
for the soul rubbed down to almost nothing,
and apply balm to a voice abraded by life’s grime.
Such souls lean on the back doorstep until
a small radiance of invisible words
flares, and poetica in motu welcomes in
the worn one so doom is chased off,
the quilt of stitched dreams tucked about it just so.
As with any rescue, this poem has work to do.
Because a poem is a miracle maker,
even when simple minded,
even if barely noted and put on a shelf,
forgotten in another dawn.
It will stay on, anyway, and
if no longer needed and tossed out,
it will again find a lost one or old traveler,
the terrified or bravado-driven,
the besotted or unloved.
The dust, it seems, is more than dust,
and poetry rises from what is left over,
often mistaken for little of note.