While going home, you emerge.
The corn in half shorn fields is paper dry,
crimped leafed, brushed black tips.
The beans were taken weeks ago –
their stubbled stalks ending in ditch bramble.
Under a low November sky, rain pressed fields
line roadsides miles in passing and passed.
Dark and undulating against the tumbling gray,
the Canada migration pushes south –
away from winter winds and snow to open waters,
furrowed forage and dropped bounty.
Your harvest memorial cuts through:
Sunday stories at dinners and after,
garden lore passed in spring planting,
morels and perch stones, sweet summer fruit,
fresh earth brushed from new potatoes –
our family narrative planted deep in Iowa soil.
The grace of a long autumn – the peace of sleep.
These whispering husks remember you.
The geese’s flight – a comfort in your passing.
Your perfect faculty
honed through practice
gives expression to
a family of rough,
Those that hear
just a little more,
a little longer,
feel the rhythm
of life thrumming
through their souls
in breathless dreams.
You play for all who
came before you.
When music casts you
into wild places marked
by spiritual abandon
and gives anima wing
with which to soar:
remember stories told,
and strings strummed
in cool autumn nights
lit by familial fires.
March 3, 2007
That we behold our children in battle
and days dwindle to winter’s ice
is beyond a tale told of sorrow
burning in a neighbor’s hearth.
When the shield and armor forged
is lashed to yours; and bound helpless
you witness blood and bone
pressed and pierced to service survival –
what salvation will save innocence?
There comes a day that is the last.
What peace may come to a warrior’s heart
when, past reckoning, that day comes?
What wretched wakefulness will heal
those that remain armored in the night?
Waxing shadows pull the sun to center –
the Dark calling his own poisoned fruit
plump on branch and bow. The word is given
– this day taken, these deeds remembered.
A curved road rider – a cannon shot soul:
remains of a summer past reproach or denial.
Irrigated green is this grave for Caesar
warmed by words and deeds; hailed in song
and the naming of these days of death.
I knew I lost you days after.
I saw your foot prints in the snow –
but often saw them there, and so…
And I waited for you in the morning.
Then I waited for you that night.
I asked if any had seen you –
and watched for signs in the darkness.
Alas, your last impressions turn to rock
in slashing, hacking cold –
their lines a fleeting testimony
to a love that melted to memory.
April 19, 2008, 2014
the recluse recedes by degrees –
a glacial community giving way
in harsh light – corporal heat,
drip by drip evaporating,
crawling back to frozen calm
safe – fragile – fearful – alone.
March 2008, 2014
If only we could bargain
for those we love.
Cut a deal with darkness
so that they would live
in light unshadowed.
Bow our heads to fate,
fill a waning heart
with life, and behold
the richness of sacrifice.
February 27, 2014