A stone is made smooth
with the least bit of pressure,
a constant and maybe thoughtless rubbing
between thumb and forefinger.
As tarnish from a piece of old silver,
maybe your grandmother’s knife made bright,
Or the wind’s insistence against snowcapped mountains
Or water-made canyons
Of deep hollows, fern filled and green,
Hiding the shy deer and red fox den.
I keep that pressure steady-
Rubbing the memories deep into my skin.
Tattooing the years tears on the lines of my face
Until I see your eyes
Look into mine
From the bathroom mirror
When I was a child,
I would switch off the light at the doorway and
Before night fell into the corners of the room,
I would run swiftly to the rug in the middle of the floor.
I counted one, two, three-
Then leapt onto the middle of the bed,
hurrying under the covers and holding my breath:
One two three four five six seven eight nine ten
Making sure there were no sounds coming from the great darkness
Beneath my bed-
That I had not somehow dislodged
Then I could sleep.
Now I stand at the shore
Of an ocean of wept tears
There is no island of comfort
No counting charms to chant
Only the great darkness falling heavily
Into the corners of the room.
Nothing now between
and the monsters.
sweeping the kitchen floor –
the remnants of living –
rushing to work –
contemplation takes a backseat-
scattered in the last autumn leaves –
flock of small brown sparrows take wing –
Winter and I have become acquainted,
the way old neighbors do,
with tall fences and barking dogs,
but knowing the other is there,
just biding our time.
Time moves in a circle-
a helix strand –
not linear, point to point,
but rising with the thermals
on the wings of large, dark birds.
the sun splays out across the winters meadow
endowing the sky with the bright blue cloak of springs return.
the bright trumpets blare out their golden notes
upon the fraudulent spring,
a symphony of sun
against a winter sky.
I have lived away from cities for so long now
That my solitary nature extends to the practice of silence.
During the day,
I don’t reach to the remote for the distraction
Of TV noise or tune into music, classical or otherwise,
Only listening for the songs of wind or wing
In the morning sky
And the raucous call of crows.
Sunlight breaks across the window panes
Directing the small dog to its warmth.
I long for the days of comfort as I sit at the old table,
Dented and worn from gatherings of dearly beloveds
And simple meals that have fed my soul.
I reach for my sweater and the leash
And we walk out to the backroad down to the lake
Where the angels and I will silently commune
As the small ducks accept the gift of stale bread.
There is so much goodness
In a warm sunny afternoon on winters ebb.
Its warmth caresses my aching joints
And eases too, my hearts grief-
Not that the grief is gone-
But a cold dreary winters day
Reflects my grief
Back on itself, a sad and tarnished mirror.
A sunny February afternoon,
When the promise of spring looks to be real
(A promise made that will be kept not broken)
It whispers to me that this is life-
That my father died after the winter,
That my mother died after the winter,
That I may die after a winter,
And then my children and their children
Will each die.
Maybe on a soft spring day,
But each February there will be a warm afternoon,
solitary and splendid.
And life will seem easier somehow
And the heart lighter.
And that will be enough
Until April comes.