from my arms;
there was a funeral.
The push, and pull, of memory,
When you left me I got sadness, despair,
When I left you, I got amnesia.
Be careful what you forget,
Memories, hostage to one another,
Shoved into the abyss, together they go,
What was beautiful, too,
The joy of holding his babies at my breasts,
The sound of love in first words;
Hope, like a childhood dream,
You’re embarrassed you believed.
And now, no plumbing the hole
With dirty hands, arms not long enough
To reach what was so easily given away;
(The hurt was not traded for living,
As I’d hoped,) no, I want them all back,
Though they bring you, with the sadness, too.
In the end, we don’t know
How the end will come,
Peaceful, as we sleep,
Or, under the thumb
Of morphine. Memories,
Like flotsam, from the depths
Of our once bright existence,
Form a tunnel toward our exit,
Each day, one step closer,
Almost touching what was lost:
mother, child, father.
I’d be lying, if I said I didn’t know,
Years of turmoil, like a river,
With a dangerous undertow.
Like swimmers, outside their boat,
Unable to swim, thrown against rocks.
We were young, and bound together
By our children. Then, the talk:
You don’t love me, he said,
And, rather than saying it wasn’t true,
I asked, what does love have to do
With being married? We have kids.
We were pulled over, under a bridge,
Which spans the mighty Snake River.
We were both wrong, but does it matter?
Self-fulling, breakup chatter–
Prelude to the email I would find–
Betrayal, is not a kind way to end.
Twenty years later, still not friends,
Yet, we are friendly in our pain.
The sting of loss, defines a sting,
And taints our world, a broken thing.
“Weep for what little things could make them glad. Then for the house that is no more a house. (Directive, Robert Frost)
The frosty backs of horses at the bale,
The red fence, framing the snow,
This is the beauty I found
In the extreme cold
And I remember
Wishing for it.
Do you want to save this bird,
It was a falcon,
And it ran, with broken wing,
At the edge
Of a barbed wire fence.
He asked me, as he knew
I was a lover of wild things,
And a nurturer of broken wings.
I do, I said, I do.
Then, he was out of the car,
Walking among snow
And wounded bird.
I watched him from the backseat,
The car, I would someday wreck.
But that day, it was whole,
And we were whole,
And he returned, victorious,
Cradling broken bird.
I don’t know why he gave it to her,
But she was in possession
Of his cowboy hat,
And she knew
I was the one who wanted it.
I was in possession of money,
And funny prankster that she was,
My sister knocked on my bedroom door.
She was having a yard sale in her room,
And I was invited to shop.
I can’t remember how much I spent,
But the hat became mine,
and I was wearing it.
He laughed when he saw me,
His big hat on my small head,
And heard the story of its quick journey
From her to me–
He’d given it to her for free–
But I didn’t care,
I wore that damn hat everywhere.
Before I wrecked his car,
I slid his truck off an icy road
At two am, in a snowstorm.
I remember hiking to the first house,
And a man answered the door
In his underwear, staring dumbly
At me. I was desperate for a phone
To call my dad, praying he’d pick up,
Otherwise, I’d be stuck
With the undressed stranger.
He did, and soon my dad was sliding
down the dangerous hill,
In the car I’d soon wreck.
Next, he held his metal two-ton jack,
And ratcheted the truck up, and off,
And up and off, back
Onto the road, where the ice melted,
And the snow turned to rain,
And the sky filled with lightning,
But we survived, and now,
We can laugh at this story.
Sit, and let me sing you a song,
Of our perfection,
And our imperfections:
No species sucks so bad
At getting what we want—
I’ll title it, Love.
Realization must come
Too late, or it’s not human.
Only in losing do we understand
The full measure of what we had,
Basically, chances, and with chance,
The opportunity to grasp —
And I’m back to the title of the song—
And how we suck at it.
I’ve seen enough of spirit to know
that you’ll still be here
when I write of letting go.
How love becomes energy,
And energy can’t be destroyed.
The power of memory:
Imperfections, fade away,
Only Love remains,
As a steady anchor,
A steady hand through—
It’s been a while
since I’ve seen you laugh,
(There’s not much joy in dying,)
Yet, I remember your laughter, too,
Your tears wiped away from crying.
And it makes me smile now,
How we watched you break down,
Such a serious father,
By your laughter.
“Once I heard a song of sweetness,
As it cleft the morning air,
Sounding in its blest completeness,
Like a tender, pleading prayer;
And I sought to find the singer,
Whence the wondrous song was borne,
And I found a bird, sore wounded,
Pinioned by a thorn.”
The song of joy comes
From the same place as sorrow:
All losses bound together
With all gifts,
Wonder and tragedy,
Sifted, then mixed.
I will hurt no more, I said,
And it was as if my soul
Was dead to happiness, too.
But now I stand,
Ready to let go of you.
It’s a wonder I’m here, progeny of lost souls,
orphans, abandoned wives, poverty & places
so uninhabitable, unsustainable—
Yet, I’m here, and the generations beyond me
refuse to wither, too.
When the earth begins to close,
there’s always just enough left
to sustain us. One small patch of grass,
free of weeds, or drought,
and just enough blue sky and sun.
We find that place, and stay long enough
to drag another survivor on.
Flood warnings, became flooded streets,
a gathering of mud, and other debris,
while in our yard, a branch broke,
from the old birch tree,
and in it, the grass nest,
a family of birds, now refugees.
And, I imagine them searching,
for a place to start again,
free of broken, flotsam dreams,
their past life, falling from this tree,
as the birch continued to bud,
and the grass continued to green.