In the right pocket of my barn jacket,
I carry a baby chick to surprise my niece –
visiting young Alice – who sleeps late.
The fireworks were last eve, you know.
She will be annoyed that I wake her this
early, but it’s time, age 5, that she
learn to hold the world, then let it go.
Today, it rained and the sky has
been in depths where I chose
not to go. It comes to me –
our laughing jags on the phone,
how we would cry, unable to
talk for minutes at a time because
we were laughing so hard. Then
something would set me off again,
something marvelous, brilliant,
so unlike you to say. My face
would hurt as I calmed, as
the nursing home would deliver
your dinner of wet eggs and
cold toast. You would ask me
what I was having. I’d think of
something unappetizing because
I loved you, because night was
coming on, and with all those
people around you, you were
Would you think it odd
if I couldn’t look away?
if when you spoke, I
if I removed the eyelash
from your cheek to make
its only wish?
if when the evening was
over, it began?
And though the wheat has need of a poem,
I will not forget you this time, your kindnesses.
The ocean announces a storm in advance,
kicking up sand in the shallows. Above,
a surrender of blue for white sky of
impending snow. The beach is in the air,
sand-stinging pins against my bare hands
as I walk homeward against the wind.
I remember you brought Georgia peaches
on your first visit to my home, insisting I
eat the skins. I was sure of catastrophes.
Can’t eat them any other way, now. So,
as I walk, I want to thank you for not
taking my life by peaches.
I see you waiting at the window, not fond
of the cold. I have loved you beyond
comfort these years. And when you wrap
me in your arms and a warmed blanket
after cold walks, I wonder if you have ever
known, that is why I walk come winter.
A gift of ocean, first autumn chill,
hazelnut coffee and cheese danish.
Along a crag, it touches me still
how we kept separate rooms,
how you stayed in mine, and that
we could have been something had
you not married her years before.
We promised we would not return. But
here I sit. Room 309. A view and a gift
of these roses waiting in this room
each year sending love to me that
has never been mine.
The sudden sun shower
rinsed the sheets a second
time. It lasted two minutes.
Long enough to leave water
lyrics and the scent of lemon
soap. Just a gentle reminder
that I was passing through this
world a little too sure of myself.
Father grew those rose bushes in angry
soil for roses, too much sand for any other
gardener, never for a moment doubting
himself and neither did the gods it seemed,
for there they would droop over the fence.
Don’t ever tell me I can’t, or I will. Don’t
speak of impossibilities or I’ll make them
surrenders. I learned that from my father
in the yard. He believed and I never doubted.
If he had said mountains, I would have said yes!
I think the saying is: Expect nothing. After
father, I couldn’t do that. It just didn’t seem
right to imprison myself though some would
call it freeing. I expect the world of the world.
I expect gods to be smitten by my “roses”.
And so they are.