Friday’s Poem: The Rain and Home

The rain. Blurry cloud-springs of it.

The symphony of it repeated from sky

to ear pressed against the screen.

A permeable canopy covering hillocks of earth

as our slight human lives bulk up

for coming winter. Water so holy in scorched land.

Downpours reflect and shadow the pallid light

as our nests are resettled with comforts,

a ritual of expectancy.

This season is a promise and a kind of partition

before rain sharpens into sleet–

we labor, hunker down, forecast.

I try to separate possible fates of the world from home.

As if they can be so different. Sometimes, still.

Nature weighs in, from all perspectives:

splash drench stir cool carry away trash

***

Yesterday as I opened blinds to let in

a sunnier moment you stated an intention

to fly out to see our parents but

noted a problem: where did they reside now?

I pressed my lips together. Address: cemetery.

Said gentler words as I have before, matter-of-fact.

Your lips form Oh and that brings Mom and Dad

here and now, to your deep heart and mine.

When you ask after the others, I must count

the dead as I’ve done dozens of times

until you know it’s truly so, til next time you forget.

It may be in the next moment.

I swallow, pet your good dog.

I am getting better with this roll call.

Your memories are stolen out from under you

in plain sight. I recall lovely times so

you can borrow mine. I know they won’t keep.

I want to cry out,

take them all so you can return to me, sister.

But you are sitting beside me, yourself.

We color pictures in brilliant palettes,

flashy mandalas of joy.

And sing “Stairway to the Stars”, one verse

that we half-create. As we talk, you

stare at a photo of my twin granchildren

in strange, gorgeous homemade masks,

and this triggers balloons of your laughter.

It obliterates every

single

point of pain.

It is how we do this.

It’s raining again, I say, pleased with it, with us.

Oh, is it? you answer with a dreamy gaze.

***

Meanwhile much later in the dark

the rain pummels and drips.

When I can’t sleep and there is a lull in showers,

I turn on a soundtrack of murmuring Northwest rainforest.

Like outside my windows, it whispers Home.

The banket and quilt are re-shaped, made welcoming.

Into my dreams arrive those who are gone,

then the living burst in and it’s a mad gathering;

we go exquisite places, do impossible things

and make a simple stone house out of ruins.

The rain pulses against shingles, softens thoughts;

it swathes sorrow, reveals wisps of light.

Nature cannot know how much I need this

(or can it?) after a firestormed summer.

Celebration rains are for other creatures,

cracked piney dirt, all that has struggled to live.

But, too, for this woman who in the morning

stands in slow drizzle, hands and face turned up

to sky’s sweet baptismal power.

Twisting leaves in bronze and cinnamon

amaze as they drift and skip to earth,

slick and shining as they pass.

Friday’s Poem: The Call of the Apple

When we reached the spot, I tumbled out of the Chrysler,

body and mind knowing from the start

that everything there was a singular magic

to be breathed, tasted, seen, touched.

Made my own as it settled in the blood.

Merriment gathered parents into small groups

but we children were impatient and reverted to wildness,

whooping and rushing into the span and

fold of the orchard, baskets banging against thighs.

The call of apples: succulent orbs ripe

for our reach, earthen grit rubbed against shirts,

weather-cured skins held to noses,

mouths readied for the tang and sugar.

Teeth to apple, one crunch to luxury,

a meat made of sharp or sweet.

We closed our eyes, tongues dazzled.

Autumn’s juices trickled down chins.

We piled up shapely globes in baskets,

checking for worm holes, leaving behind any

softening flesh that loosed spicey-sour scents,

their beauty soon bygone and laid to rest.

I paused to watch others transfixed by

pleasures of the day, their arms small but strong,

hands grasping, faces pinked with cold and happiness.

Baskets dragged on arms but more to pick,

show off and share. Work was never so good.

Back in the thicket of grownups we claimed

warm cake donuts crowned with cinnamon

and sipped burning cider between bites.

Oh, the hunger of a child magnified by October.

Everything happening spilled into everything,

treetops stirring the northern lake-blue sky,

slices of wind raising goosebumps,

air woven with apple perfume and scattered laughter

that seemed the presence and promise of good fortune,

the thrumming of my heart like a drum of eternity.

Everywhere I looked between the burnished trees

people leaned into and reached for one another

as if no one would be lost or forgotten,

harmed or unforgiven.

No one left without sustenance enough.

In the scratchy wool plaid pocket of my jacket

lay a golden delicious apple, safe and big

as my cupped hand, saved for another day,

a guard against bitter frost and snow to come.

Friday’s Poem: If You Ask Me (if feeling doubtful)


If you ask me,

find a place you care to hide or pretend to and

emerge as if you had not seen rugged earth, sea of sky,

that face that shines with delight as it did for years before,

as if this moment you found what you were looking for

and air streaming between all points flows true and bright.

If you ask me,

awaken and feel that life charge of signals and

note their migration from toes to heart to head

as if you are on a journey you’d prayed could happen

and flush of day claims consciousness as you rise.

If you ask me,

settle into your hands the fine bulk of another hand

like the soft body of a small being, tenderly and firmly

as if the warmth pressing into yours is meant to be honored

and little matters more than your touch saying so.

If you ask me,

explore don’t sulk, lift don’t push, embrace don’t crush

for we stay alive for the simplest reasons and they are paramount

for a happiness we are meant to know and meant to give away

and a single moment can change the whole.

If you ask me,

love even when it falters or hurts or bewilders,

even when it fails to get where you planned it to land

in the scheme of all, for you don’t know when time is up-

if we are honest we see how tenuous the line that tethers us.

Live like your relentless heart,

your wrestling soul is sacred,

a chalice full of all the good you are

if you ask me