not a new poem…just finally gathering all my bits and pieces all in one place. although there are several themes, it’s all one piece and they all start and finish at the same place.
You’re a writer, he says,
but sometimes your text is ambiguous,
hard to read.
It could go this way or that, round and round.
Like a dog chasing its tail, I ask?
No, not like that at all, he says. It’s hard to explain.
You’re not as direct as you think, he says.
Am I not as direct as the crow flies, I ask?
You’re as direct as a metaphor can be, he says.
and you always ask strange questions
that I don’t know how to answer.
The answer’s always the same I say
and it starts and ends with a poem…….
I stumbled upon your name
on an abandoned stretch of beach
cluttered with drift logs and sea detritus.
There it lay, spelled out for me
in the salty sand.
A jostled Etch-a-Sketch now,
the wind had blown across,
filled half the letters in;
still, there you were.
An hour later,
you would have been completely erased.
Who took me there to the
waters’ edge that day
and left your grainy name for me?
I covered you with my jacket
and lay on top of it till nightfall
the straight lines and curves of you
pressing new laugh-lines into my face.
It was dark when I awoke,
black house, black night
and I walked with one hand to the wall,
an ear to the empty room.
Then I remembered how you found the light
in stories and psalms and darker hours than mine,
and you shone it down for me just then
at quarter past three,
with three quarters of the year done and gone
and no looking back for you;
you shone it for me
and offered a prayer
and then I saw what you saw.
There were chrysanthemums in bloom
and rain on the pond,
and trees readying for fall.
There was the lord
standing to one side,
his hands held up in prayer.
There were hallowed men
and sacred gardens,
and loved ones who’d gone before,
all gathered in my living room
at 3:16 am, under the light of you.
You played a song on your guitar
that made drab birds green with envy.
Not content to listen in,
they connived to steal
the music for their own.
They waited by your garden gate
until your fingers begged for rest
and then they swooped into the room
and plucked away your strings.
The thieving birds flapped away,
your melody dangling from their beaks,
and later in the leafy treetops
they delighted in their treasure.
They preened and danced and
wove them into nests of sliver and gold
that serenaded the trees by day
and sang them lullabies at night..
Grasses heard and bowed their heads,
their tender stems silent in prayer,
and all the animals followed their lead
and stood stalk-still too;
not a single footfall echoed through
that musical monastery.
But the music had the word
and it sang to the birds
and they realized their folly,
and now every spring they sing for you
and offer penance for their transgression.
I felt your skin on mine
between the sheets and breaths and sighs
but we never touched and both of us
knew we never would.
I moved around from house to house,
from bed to bed and back again
to escape the arms that never held me
but held me back and held me up
so I could touch the sky.
I spent a small fortune on moving vans
but you greeted me at every door
and tucked me in every night
and served me breakfast every morning.
When I was cold your body curled
its warmth around my back,
and you bruised me with your gentleness
and left me wanting more.