Remember that from the start it was
one for all, all for one? An entire lifetime of this.
A sweep of arms that gather in all.
It may have been a fervent dream of hope,
an obstinate faith in unknowns, but still
our circle has looped and held even
when torn to nearly broken.
And repaired, each thread twined with
the next in tensile links of love,
defining a net that catches sustenance,
saves whatever falls and binds together our
disparate truths. And loosens to let you go your ways.
Will you remember when you are less sturdy?
When I am gone? Or if the ties unravel and
you wait at the window, hands reaching for more?
There will be rifts. Misplaced time. Miles flung far.
Yet it has been, remains and will be this:
all for one, one for all, heart overlaid with hearts.
Year after year I’ve walked by though failed
to find this hidden place in bushes gathered near
thatched grasses, my eye turned elsewhere,
away from this apparent desiccated stone.
As I draw close, body and mind pause– as
from spongy dirt springs mossy life, tiny blossoms,
chosen rocks settled in the bowl of an old bird bath.
It served its time or did not fulfill its duty, thus
given another chance so prevailed as another thing:
a place for anything to appear, even take hold.
The four rocks I think were picked and placed–
happy child’s play– or they were underfoot
of one who seeded the curbside garden–
but they appear to me as elegant and smoothly dense,
pleasing eggs offered by earth to rest in sun and shadow.
I imagine all were given important names:
Mina, Elwyn, Duke and Chloe–old friends now.
Or each was meant to hold a wish:
inclusion, healing; clear skies, butterscotch cake.
It all may have meant far less, but randomness
creates its own value and has its place.
I step back to see again. There comes revealing light;
soul and senses fill up with pleasure, peace.
For I have seen opulence that could not rival these:
plain offerings given over to dominion of elements,
sparking renewed gratitude in this passerby, and
a certainty of good secrets, treasures to be found
and lessons of usefulness as I continue on.
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.