Driving along the ridge,
Bright sun in a cold sky,
The bar ditch is filled with the first blush of spring.
Effervescent purple henbit covers the ground,
Weeds of childrens delight,
First bouquets of the season.
When my nieces were babes,
These weeds were their favorite flower until their father
Mowed the yard,
Decimating their wild flower garden and bringing bereft tears.
Did my grandfather tell me the tale of why we call the ditches
Along the roadside ‘bar ditches’?
The dirt was borrowed ‘bar-red’
To raise the road, flattened for the wagons then model Ts
To travel above the fields.
Memory sometimes obscures the truth.
I remember that my father died on Palm Sunday,
Though it is not the truth.
But that is the memory I preserve in my life’s mythology.
And it is Palm Sunday once again,
Not the date of his leave taking
But still the day I grieve.
And it is the first day of spring,
The day I remember my nieces’ grief
Over the heaped green weeds across their yard.
On this day, memory, unreliable and exact,
Borrows the joy before the grief…
Its the first of spring and all the birds sing
And little children palm frond process
Waving welcome the King into Jerusalem.
One brother is spending the week in silence.
One brother is spending the week in Amsterdam.
These are not metaphors.
I am spending my week in an alley amongst the dumpsters and broken glass and who knows what that is on the ground
Somewhere between weeping and not weeping.
This is metaphor
And knowing myself like I do,
Since I have spent a good portion of my time in this alley,
It has been swept clean and the dumpsters have been lined up just so and the whatever that was has been washed away.
And I have probably made friends with a cunning rat or two and helped some homeless dude find lodging.
All this is metaphor.
Grief puts you in unexpected geography,
Locales not usually associated with your life.
And you spend a lot of time there,
Weeping and wishing you would stop weeping then thinking, okay, I have stopped weeping
Just to start all over again.
Some of this is metaphor.
And the alley is someplace.
I mean alleys are always the in between places.
The places that separate there from over here.
And all that may or may not be metaphor.
I’m not sure.
I look at my hands.
They look nothing like my mothers hands.
Hers were small and china cup delicate
though powerful enough to create our universe.
Her fingers, slim and incandescent, resolving into perfect oval nails.
She scoffed and dismissed those fingers as not enough,
lacking the reach for that next ivory key
reserved for the true concert pianist.
That not good enough created all the sounds of my childhood-
Schubert and Haydn,
tin pan alley,
Lennon and McCartney,
I miss her strong hands, pale and translucent,
I miss my mother’s hands holding my hands.
Blowing hot and cold, angry lovers
rush into each others arms, sparking
into existence their lightning filled
children, giants towering over the land.
Cumulonimbus pillars roiling with winds
and voices of thunder deep
shaking the still naked trees, pounding
aprils warming ground with vernal
tantrums and hailstones, cold and blue.
All this begatting and begetting
awash in the fundamental forgetting
of winters just passed
and springs just springing.
April’s hallelujah of re-creation intones
warming air saturated in pheromones.
Shedding my skin, casting off
the detritus of all winters,
I scrub the windows of my eyes
to reveal what was once true.
Marked by a blue streak
across my forehead, tattooed
no more by the past,
with merlin, I grow younger
I am spring!
lets watch the birds
as they swirl in the darkening air
sinuous, spiraling, undulating,
arabesque (from Italian for the Arabic style)
from the bowl of the sky
as night enfolds its light
incorporating the bright sun
into moonshine’s glimmer
bells should peal
tolling the moments between one day
and the next
but loon song is the only crier
all is well, all is well
I was in a small boat on a river,
The water swift and clear
But my little boat and I
Steady in the rushing current.
I watch the waters flowing past
Without me and my small vessel.
We are left
As if moored
Or caught on a hidden shoal.
How quickly the days have sped.
Already a year nearly gone
And I remain
Waiting for the tide to rush to lift my boat
And propel me forward into life.
Snatches of lullabies from a distant long ago room
Strains of the old rugged cross from dusty hymnals
Or maybe loud mellencamp from a car radio
Thumping across dirt roads
I never know if its real
Or made up
The sound of tires on the singing asphalt
Or the growl of gravel
Humming harmonies rising in clouds of dust
They’re the songs of wandering angels