Slow to self-esteem, the brook,
which is the least of the seas,
conjures nothing, but a clear
meanderer traipsing through
I cross to reach the blackberries
wild with news to report. And I
cross the brook again to head
homeward, my feet washed by
silent amble. I look down at my
pail of sweets,
soon to be a pie lover’s affair.
For every bird –
one slow star
I love you more.
I have loved you at all hours,
but there is something about
3am tonight – that it’s impossible –
that you’re sleeping –
that it leads to 6am –
when there’s an alarm –
when there’s your career –
when the dry cleaning has to
be good for something, right?
Then I realize, I’m right too
often. Because you’ve told me
I always have to be right, and
this 3am, I’m willing to be wrong.
And that’s when I reach for you.
Tender is tomorrow
when we reach the sea,
soft the cool black water,
swift the passing lees.
Take me through the counties
that claim you as their own,
I leave behind a desert
every grain of sand my home.
So gentle flow me River,
midnight etch the shore,
each of us a shadow,
today is now no more.
Within him, there was a vacant yearning
where he dwelled having given up. I don’t
know when. I can’t venture a guess, but
I have the thought that at one time, he was
more alive with this desire. For a woman?
How can I rightly say? I feel though that
it was a long wanting, the way it left
him devoid of life.
And that was when we met, there in his
private room, we two, where I learned
of his desire to return home. I was a young,
foolish intern, and I thought I had answers
for “home.” To go to art class, to play
checkers with his neighbors, in other
words to create a “home” there among
the dying and feeble.
But this was just recruitment he said.
And the battle lay ahead. I thought this
was senility perhaps. And so I brought
a checker board to his room.
A room that smelled of urine from the
hall. He taught me every way he knew
to cheat at checkers. My presence taught
him what he already knew – life carries on,
there would always be more soldiers.
After six months, I went to play checkers,
and he cheated me. “He’s gone home,”
the nurse declared. I looked down at my
gift for his Kwanzaa.
I thought he and I might have found his
“home.” I thought home was friendship
and empathy. But it was neither. It was
the sea where they spread his ashes on
the water. And it was not the sea at all.
She had written 1986 on her check.
That was what he was insisting as if
she had needed to delay payment.
“Are you really Hattie McDaniel?”
“My mother gave me that name.” She
was now the one insisting. He said she
must come in today and make a cash
payment for $41.23.
“I will,” she said, thinking the car
needed gas. First, the cat needed
breakfast. Rude man. How much had
he said? $21.73? Well, she had that.
She would go to lunch and buy that
bright umbrella on sale at the store
on Vine Street. Or Pine Street. She
knew where. Having eaten, the cat
followed her into the bedroom. She
would come home with some yarn
to knit a winter hat. What a lovely
day to bake bread. In her slippers,
she walked to the kitchen to test
the yeast and gather the ingredients.
But first, the cat needed breakfast.
In the late night seasons of last evening –
(spring leaning upon a bit of summer)
you returned as you always do – in thoughts.
I would surprise you. I have grown strong.
It’s been one year since I moved the stream to
where you thought it should be. I built a pond
that drought cannot weaken. And the sea
is the sea – it gives, it takes as you promised
The sun tonight falls in a mask of black
leaves – the trees of fifteen years. Time,
it has taken. I have found no way to
build a fortress against it.
You can imagine my surprise when the
stream moved back to its comfort this
evening in torrents of tempest. I see you
I will put this letter with the others from
me. I will try to forget once again that
tomorrow doesn’t bring you.