The Way We Wish It Was
We wish for that we cannot have:
Seasons without winter’s torment,
Children who stay forever young
Their skin supple and their hands small,
Grasping at the longings we share.
We wish to dim fluorescent light,
A wink to shush its cruel scold
That bullies our weary aged skin,
Its wrinkles and sloughing creases
Teased by gravity’s constant tug.
We wish that when we stop to pray
That the ground at our feet were soft,
But often the earth is hard, cold,
Strewn with stones beneath the needles
Where we kneel under rustling pines.
We wish that we could float with clouds
And see the winding path below,
Where we wander along alone
The well worn trail of our dreams,
And wonder at the chances missed.
We wish around the curve ahead
We will find the token for love
Amid the grit and the litter
That will forever change it all.
Though nothing ever seems to change.
We wish that all our dreams came true
And we could accept our regrets
And allow forgiveness, mercy
From this, the way we wish it was,
Which is just the way that it is.
Why Things Happen
For J. D. Riso
And read a mystery next to my cat,
Both of us dismayed by the dark, wet sky.
I listened and read and accrued the clues
Of how and who as to why things happen.
I heard rainwater scampering across
The roof shingles and into the gutter,
Tap tapping out alerts when it dropped with
Certainty, down the spout, draining the sky.
I turned pages, the cat stretched, and elsewhere,
Far away, sirens curdled the night air
And soured someone’s life, now, gone awry.
My Beautiful Life
I walked alone this afternoon.
October’s velvet light slipped through
The shade of a big leaf maple
And tattooed my arms with shadow.
Erratic winds stirred the branches
And a scattering of leaves fell
Like confetti before my eyes.
They danced minuets in rhythm
To the crosscurrent of the breeze
In their tan and crimson dresses.
They twirled in celebration
Of my life, my beautiful life.
And when the wind died, they stopped, as
I walked alone this afternoon.
“Just remain in the center; watching. And then forget that you are there.” Lao Tzu
Chores come due, and the pine and fir are split
And the soot filled flue is cleaned
And the wood stacked high
To the barren rafters of the shed,
Where spiders fed on October’s insects.
A dense cloud of leaves float over the fence
From the boughs of a neighbor’s black oak.
They twirl and plummet to the ground
In the shaggy frost of early morning
And nest on stones that surround the laurel
And the trunk of the white bark cherry.
I gather up the fallen debris and
Arrest the disorder with symmetry.
I quarrel against the icy chill,
And the bedded stems that resist the rake,
And the whorl of leaves that escape its scratch
To scatter outside my custody.
Some hide in the skirt of the burning bush:
The clutter of perpetual autumn.
Others flutter away, dried and brittle,
Propelled by the wealth of winds that hone
And shape the land to the silent river
Where the blue heron glide and fish alone.
And the towhee pecks at the hardened crust,
Seeking the moist carpet of leaves below.
But it is too deep. Only the memory
Of his stutter step foraging remains:
Of hopping ahead and jumping backwards,
Of when he tossed aloft the ground cover,
The turning of each leaf, shoving, pulling,
And searching for the mysteries beneath.
He’d been so happy to be that busy
With the bounty of everlasting work,
Patient in the quest for a tiny seed,
The egg of an insect, a spent morsel.
He flies to the white paper birch and joins
With the juncos and the chipping sparrow
Perched in the ribs of the tree’s skeleton
Under the grey breast of the winter sky.
He waits for the promise of tomorrow,
In the biting wind and the falling snow,
Warmed by the forge in his colossal heart.