Anchored by the weight of dreams
And open to the wind,
In fear of stillness
And a starless night.
I could reach
And brush my fingers ‘cross the moon
Or just lie open,
Basking in its light.
Or I could sing
With gratitude for sight
And how it seems
That I could win.
Or wait for the darkness
That I know is coming soon.
I have a crystal dish of beach glass.
It holds the population of the world;
All worn and broken shards
Of some larger, unknown thing.
Every color of the sea is here,
Dashed up from the salty murk.
All greens and grays; black, blue and clear.
Each hue becoming what it is
With time and nature’s work.
Bits are still bright,
But brown and white
Are commonest and etched;
Smoothed and softened frosted
Fragments of a life hard-won.
Each pit is just a facet
That sparkles up the sun.
Sparrows still dance;
Their tiny talons tap
On my roof’s rusty corrugated tin,
Because I fed them once,
They still expect my care,
Unfazed by loss or hurt or sin;
Such innocence in how they face the day
As though the world were still the same.
How badly I want it to be.
You fed them too, on Sundays,
So I could sleep in.
And I knew, even then,
That it was love.
I did not miss love when it was here,
As many do,
By waiting for roses or a written vow,
But I do now, without you.
And it will be awhile
Before I dance again
Or feed the silly birds that do.
The beach in San Francisco is gray; hard packed
Like concrete; cold and firm.
The city grew to match.
The Caribbean is all sugar,
Soft and white; refined.
Hawaii is a younger land,
Still free to be itself; diverse and proud.
There are golden grains like whole wheat flour
And crushed nuts;
Some sparkling black like night sky,
Etched crystal edges of lava stone
Or translucent green; the Olivine exposed.
The hot honest mountain erupts,
Rubble lies everywhere;
The seeds of sand.
Words are my wings that I can share
To fly us anywhere,
Just you and me.
To creep inside a secret mind
Or taste sharp cheese and apples with our wine.
Imagination flies onto the page
And we will wander privately
To peek at troubled lives;
Watching guilt and fear and frenzy
Thrive and die;
Sensing pleasures; floating, quenching flesh
And holding a warm heart close
Within a throbbing breast.
Soft brush of fur on fingertips
Caressing puppy ears;
Kisses from sad-eyed children;
The warmth of loving tears.
Rich grief and soaring passions take us deep
Into the forest or the sea.
Windswept and wet, we reach for life and rise,
Terrified with chill
Then wrapped in crackled heat
Dry sand and blasting sun,
We fly from beach
To desert, to morning mountain air
Where acres of butterflies hover
Above spring blooms of wild daisies
And the sappy pines give sweet-scented shade.
Riding a thermal,
Like a circling bird of prey,
We swoop into lush valleys
Snatching with quick talons,
The moments of another’s day.
Or dash off to Florence just to touch
Cool marble where the sculptor’s figures struggle,
Sinews bulging, to fight their way,
Out of the ancient stone.
Thick cotton clouds cushion our path
And cool the fevered brow
Of fearful flight
As we fall, effortless, through open sky,
Then light upon an instant of great joy.
Bright celebration colors birth
Of an epiphany!
Growth for some peaceful soul
Has set a spirit free.
Then on we go! Come feel with me!
A trip to everything:
The soft sensations and the snap of pain;
The bending of the willow branch;
Rough-textured bark of oak, so staunch!
Hot sand between bare toes;
Cruel slice of insult to an open heart;
Sweet thrill of one electric touch
From true lovers’ tender lips
And then the fall
Into the dark abyss,
And climb back to the clear.
Words fly us, intimately,
SURELY THERE MUST BE
The big picture always looms
One size larger than our thoughts can fit.
Infinity and justice challenge logic
As moving targets;
Unreachable in life and gone.
The brain lazes.
I wonder in the sun.
I watch the dog run on the lawn.
Now and Enough are the only answers.
The questions are consistent ghosts
That sit around the campfire,
Surely there must be more?
THE REASON FOR BEARS
Do bears ever wonder why they’re born?
I think they know.
They hunt and forage and copulate
And then there’s snow!
Safely within thick fur and fat they’re curled
Into their inner lives,
To dream for months about the beauty of the world.
A dark, warm, private sleep sends them dancing
Deep into grand fantasies of what a bear should be.
The stillness of their hibernation
Sets them free to realize the why.
And when they wake to work,
They do their jobs just to survive
Until the dream begins again
And lets them live.
Before I moved and broke the spell,
I sat still, watching for so long that
A spider webbed me!
He connected me to his universe
With a single thread that burst
From deep within him;
Spit and spun and woven into a theme;
An arachnid novel!
Or perhaps a stream;
A diatribe or a poem?
I cannot read spider,
So I do not know,
But we are closer, this other life and I,
Because he chose me
As a spot to filament.
Did he think, “I’ll put one end just here
And then work toward the chair?”
Or did he care?
Perhaps he simply spit with no intent;
A spider in the moment, free!
Swinging in the breeze
And without fear of me;
The giant target he attached.
Either way, he wrote.
I listened well.
He published in my memory;
An instant story
Rich with silly thoughts,
Right before I moved
And broke the spell.
THE ANSWER TO MY PRAYER
My brother hunts like an animal,
Smelling the musk of elk
On the crisp October air.
Stilled by his own awe
At the meadow’s edge;
He’s found so many there!
The majesty of cows and bulls;
A herd of twenty, near,
Has sparked his human thirst
For their rich flesh, but
Holds him for an instant
So rifles do not fly to padded jacket shoulders,
And the only forest sound
Is the pound of hooves
On frosted blades of grass
As beauty smells him first.
I gave him more, back then
Than I have ever given you.
But it was not because my love
Was any deeper or more true.
I gave him more
Because I didn’t know
I couldn’t win.
That I could force the sunshine in.
The extra that I gave
It left me lessened by regret
And more faded
Than anyone should be.
Now that I’m yours
My color’s bright.
The wisdom of your love
Has lent me light.
So I can glow
The best of me.
Truth is a liquid that fills all space, flowing naturally between the lines and saturating the senses with precisely what we wish to feel and see and believe. We swim within the fluidity of personal fact in relentless pursuit of perspective. If I sit upon the moon, I see the earth as a gentle miracle held in balance by unfathomable forces. A single ocean washes all the shores and nurtures life across this gorgeous orb that allows us comfort and contemplation.
A vast and busy universe explodes and spins and stirs and sings as it cradles our tiny planet where it circles and swings in the warmth of a steady sun. We are, from such a distant view, a very simple flash of mass and energy eternally exchanging. Amidst the chaos of this rise and fall, how can the enlightenment of a single heart have any meaning?
Why does it matter if agreement can be reached? Because, how grand it is to float in a similar truth; to see the same colors as another spirit does! That is love! That is knowing for a fleeting moment we are not alone in our illusions. We transcend fear and darkness and hold our focus clearly still as the world revolves around us. It is these sparks of joy that keep us sane and searching through the fluid truth. It must be enough to sustain us; just an understanding laugh or a shooting star or the brush of fingertips across a cheek. It is a glimmer of glory when the truth appears solid enough to satisfy our faith and it pools around us for awhile before it meanders on.
A pair of Saffron Finches built a nest in the cypress hedge on a branch right above my garden path. I could see it clearly out my window and I watched them meticulously weave fine threads of shredded sticks and dry plant stems until they had created a perfect little bowl. Mother bird padded it with fluff; bits of dog hair and dryer lint. Father finch was a brighter more aggressive bird and he brought feathers; soft gray ones from a dove that had recently been killed by feral cats. For two days there was a feast of loose feathers at the death site near the birdbath and then they were all used by other birds or blown away like memories of sad things.
At last, the nest was done. It hung right by my front gate, but the path was seldom used. I always came and went by the back door, so the birds were undisturbed. Two tiny eggs appeared. Both finches huddled together in the nest at night to warm their young and I liked to think they gave each other comfort as they embarked on parenthood.
Then I forgot, one day, that their home hung so close to mine. In a thoughtless moment, I opened the gate and marched boldly along the path! Bright yellow streaks jetted off just above my head, driven from their home by fear of the clumsy being that I was. I watched for hours before they finally returned, settling in for the night; no harm done. It was a great relief to know that I did not interrupt the lovely plan of such perfect creatures. I looked forward to the hatching, feeding, and fledging of the babies soon to be.
Then visitors stomped up the path; a delivery man, one day, with a package from well-meaning friends and religious people wanting to share their word, the next. Finally, after the magazine salesman frightened off my birds, they never did return. The tiny eggs lay cold and unattended as I waited, hopefully, forever.
I remembered, then, what my grandmother told me when I was just a child about how sometimes the world gets too busy and too frightening for two parents and the timing is bad, so they cannot stay home with their baby. She said my folks did not run off and leave me because I was unloved, but they just made mistakes and things happened and they got scared.
I watched the finch nest weather away gradually. It had been so well built that it took nearly a year to disappear and I wondered if those parent birds had ever found a better place and time where they could raise new chicks in peace and safety. I hoped they did and I started to understand how painful things could happen; unintended. Silly, flitting yellow finches led me to the beginning of forgiveness.