Raven to Dove
The white wind blows over the hills
we once called green.
Today they seem less fruitful
than in years past, even though
the only change is within us.
You, dovelike, coo at the flowering
of white rosebuds.
caw at your wavering call.
I hate you these days, beloved.
You still sit over my head
at most times of rest,
and shit upon my calls for change.
Yet here, on the western hills,
you claim precedence,
and all I can do is
watch you accede.
I know I exhaust this point, but
I cannot drink coffee without thinking of you.
I remember clearly my first sip:
the wet season rests like a blue cat outside.
You nurse a cup of dark stuff
and you warm your feet by the space heater.
I like how your drink smells
and I ask you if I can have a cup myself.
You laugh at my request
and you suggest I try a single sip instead.
I tell you no, I want a cup,
so you humor me and prepare a full mug.
I swallow the aromatic blend
and I my face betrays I regret the decision.
I learn the definition of love
when you don’t make me finish the cup.
You defy most measures of manliness.
You ignore the Dallas Cowboys
to watch ice skating with Mom if she wants.
You refuse to strive with others
and offer conversation instead of conflict.
You seldom drink any alcohol;
I don’t think you even know how beer tastes.
You say nothing of your earning power.
And Dad, a lot of men could beat you up.
But I think of a man, and revisit
that side trail near Morro Rock.
When the bear towers over us,
you—so mortal—ignore her threats.
You raise your hands to prove your strength
and you offer her kind words.
-I understand you’re scared,- you say
-but I want to protect my children too.-
She tastes no fear in you that day, only grit.
And as she calls
and her cub walks back across our path,
she meets your eye and nods.
Yeah, you are the man in my book.
Clouds gather overhead. As my car dies
I hear a peal of thunder herald the storm.
An invisible pulse kills my electric system
yet I manage to drift over to the shoulder.
But a mass of twisted metal burns to my left.
-Luck rides with you- that wreckage says.
I see other bodies emerge from still vehicles.
We look westward. White light burns the sky.
I see the wall of inevitability approaching,
and I sprint for the cover an overpass offers.
I dive down the cement incline and cower
against a concrete wall. -Our Father- I start
but swift light quiets the screams above me.
I black out. Sadder, I open my eyes again.
The smell of history clings to withered trees,
blazing rooftops, black husks, and my clothes.
-Forever and ever, amen- I finish between sobs.
Thus a man in a soiled business suit finds me
and I realize I might not face the future alone.
I beg myself _Open the gate and let it die._
I plead _Let the darklike waters unravel
and seep past the edges of our shared being._
I scream _Unchain the ghosts you trapped.
They roam only to reclaim their bodies._
-Here,- the angry wraith admits, -I sat.
Thus the demon stripped me of my skin.-
-And I,- the pained shadow confesses,
-died here because of an icebound kiss.-
-Release us,- they plead of me in unison.
I slide the rusted lock from its aged bolt.
I let the liquid flow down dried courses
with a wish. It sprawls over my corners,
and I try to remain afloat. My raft leaks.
I see I retained too much for far too long.
The glass towers of myself fall glimmering.
Shattering panes sing songs I cannot record.
The water douses stenches grown familiar.
Currents of air rest on the unbound tongue.
My feet drink the power my fingers released.
I watch and wait for the revelation of the sun.
Drift III: First Words
Father drives our minivan over the hill to the storage center.
I listen to the radio, hear of a holiday called Thanksgiving.
Father exits the vehicle. Mother and Sister remain near me.
I have a self here, frail though that sense of self might be.
I have a sense of what I am about, and what is about me.
I learn to listen, not just to hear: and beyond looking I see.
I see you now, Mother, seeing back at me in this carseat.
I listen to you, Sister, while you sing meaningless ditties.
You both stare: everything I am yearns to communicate.
And so I latch on to the one word I know I can repeat.
-Gobble!- I scream at you, past the babble of infancy.
-Gobble gobble gobble- I cry, desperate for connection.
Mother and Sister clap their hands and smile at my body.
-Gobble- I wail, -gobble gobble gobble.- End the isolation!
Instead you set my words on a pedestal, and me with them.
Drift II: Pendulum
I do not possess language then, but I do hear.
Now I can put names to things I remember.
On the wooden porch behind the green house
one fall morning I rock in an automatic swing.
Mists shroud the nearby trees where birds sing.
The universe ebbs and flows beneath my feet.
The same force that suspends the stars tugs me.
We are all falling, I realize now, towards the sun.
In that time and place gravity is a simple thing:
gravity is just a feeling, and inertia is a swing
that stops. I whimper softly, and my sister hears.
She tries to lull me by pulling back the chair,
but it tips and I hurtle forward towards the deck.
I land with a thump and I scream. My mother cries.
My sister apologizes for a murder she perceives.
But I am fine, really. I wail in anger, not pain.
They upright the swing and I start rocking again,
but the time where all reality is one has gone.
I learned to distinguish myself from the trees,
and I lost the sublime only to gain a name.