This is not the deft poem
that other poets may identify,
but all that manifests this moment
a breath across wild space
a plea for uncommon sense
a gesture made toward heaven
a climb up a sycamore tree
a well echoing new fullness
a semblance of those gone
a blossom spun on a wave
a wish for someone’s scent
a tantrum that lost its steam
a trust in shadow’s light
a belief that remains whole
a falling down and rising up
a heart made only of singing
a ghost empty of pain
a release of all that fails
a river dancing my dreams
a madness that creates joy
a woman who ushers in dawn
a secret safely revealed
a whisper of boisterous things
a desert that welcomes rain
a love known to shift shapes
a tale of mercy for us all.
This is not a deft poem and
arrives as a living thing,
hews a trail to more,
thus grants me peace.
Bits of me have loosened, come away
like birch strips, so thin they curl, flutter,
litter earth where unseen creatures trod.
It’s the peculiar renewal of nature,
losing this and that, cells sloughing
with nary a shudder, everything
an invention, old making way for newer.
I dreamed once of an entire heroic life,
believing it likely but the person
I am is not made now of that heart
which floated in heaven’s boat,
soul vibrant as flutey chimes.
I have become other than imagined.
Deepened perhaps but less substantial,
working toward transparency.
More diminished as each one I’ve known
passes through the eye of storms
and into an evermore, far halcyon place.
I am not yet invisible but missing parts-
her laugh that sustained, his silence that
taught, their smiles that unlocked more life,
that brilliant blue eye of family that held the world.
One who offered poetry, a necessary bridge.
And, too, one who came ashore to find me,
then we dove right in from high places.
Now only I stand here, putting on my courage
while bits of me have loosened
like failing, downy petals,
revealing a tender center
where– despite fiery tears,
these worn regrets, swift delights,
sorts of love which defy naming–
you you you you you you
still roam, here, inside this sphere
The stories shared by our remaining brother
gave tribute to places sculpted by vastness,
drought and heat that could kill;
trees like beautiful spirits;
people crouched in expectation;
nights woven with soft netting and rent
by lions’ talk that elicited screams.
My safe skin tingled though far from Africa.
Earth is lush with danger and amazement.
In that place, life and death appeared simpler.
Orxyes, wildebeests, hippos, antelopes, leopards,
each name a bright bell rung around our table.
Rare tracks of the black rhino,
such zebras with curious children,
tiny frogs click click clicking under star-struck skies.
It is enough to make me abandon other realities.
Enough for my breath to be stilled not by loss
but adoration of prodigious designs.
Our older, lost brother would marvel over warthog, antelope.
After all, he and wolves knew one another;
we both admired their songs, endurance, loyalty.
He gave consideration to all manner of beasts.
I recalled more exotic countries–ones
mapped by the fierce intellect and feeling that
our lost brother had inhabited, full of more tales.
And the Mexican village to which he had longed to return,
with its colors singing, hands rough but open,
breezes like kisses as his saxophone,
clarinet or flute stirred dust and birds,
his living finally distilled, vibrations
no longer wounding heart nor disrupting his soul
…nor taking from him the best he may
have had yet to offer us. To himself.
That old frontier was a dream of new music
birthed of quietude, a calm wrested from forces
feverish, half-sorted, but that he owned.
I am audacious about God, about possibility,
so venture to report he has made his way.
He left us to the minutiae of time left,
to our capricious attitudes,
urgent manner of sentience.
I can say he seized hope near the end of his road.
It answered me as we hugged a last time;
his arms were weary but they were right.
Now our remaining prayers are loosed,
notes and words fleeing on May’s generous sweep,
a promise carried on shear of wind above
his music room, the rest of us
left with ache of love and wondering.
I found the past today, your zest and stillness,
the sturdy early years and in-betweeness.
Now you’re three quarters grown, still present
more or less, despite a bit of steel in lip,
a drape of walnut colored hair, a flutter
of eyelids, your face a study in pallor and shadow.
These obscure a teen-aged life, its secrets, until
a smile creases the standard blase position.
Words can appear like dewdrops or lightning:
ideas, feelings, a pronouncement, a kind of poem.
I pay heed, branch to bright leaf, age to youth.
Remember how easily you played and sweated?
Danced and pretended with my necklaces, scarves?
And memorized the properties of plants, liked insects,
revered high desert creatures, shared your drawings
or whatever made you mad–it all mattered.
I saved up those times when you still
found my hand, offered wildflowers, songs.
Your heart has ached, become strong in life’s vagaries;
kept company with humans, wildness, imaginings.
A thrum of mystery has gentled sadness, fed hope.
I have been glad to act a fool, to hurt for and hold you.
Still invoke angels to do great work with you.
I am nearer than you know as you sit with
daybreak and midnight and mine the depths
for wisdom that reveals greater truth.
Like water and salt, granddaughter,
the element bravery resides in you.
Like seed and starlight, love and faith,
your life will reach far, forge its way.
I will be here if you somehow forget.
Speak my name. I will remind you again, again.