Friday’s Poem: For the Living and Dead

(Photos by this writer. Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island, B.C.)

For the living there are offerings of flowers rising,

embroidered throughout valleys and mountains,

and green things that shimmy in rainfall and wind

and zigzag calls of feathered, furred,

the sleek and shelled creatures as if

nothing was awry, and the earth is at peace.

For the dead, perhaps silence, and sudden dreams of beauty

that cover the past, rescue the present or design a future

we know nothing about; their gardens beckon in ways

only mystics can conjur when everything is torn inside out.

The living, the dead; what truth can be said of them?

What falsehood separates them and us?

My heart speaks to those here; eyes weep for those gone.

And the blood of earth recapitulates with clusters of

snowdrops, marsh marigolds, wild roses, tiger lilies.

Wars indict humans by the roots of resolute trees.

Thousands of years we have mastered, failed, fallen.

Bitter seeds attempt to take hold

but cannot flourish forever nor

invade realms of Power beyond our ken.

There is wisdom we do not seek enough,

nor decipher well when we most need it.

And yet bees still labor happily;

redwing blackbirds trill their stories;

foxes hide and seek, nurture new life in the den.

I cover my head. I toil in time until unable.

I await an invitation to paradise as I tire.

But today, prayers for sweetness

and mercy for the living;

For the dying and dead,

a crying out,

a plea for safe passage,

a benediction uttered into deepest night

into deepest everything

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