Friday, May 25, 2012
Now I am great of girth, my teeth all gone
but two, Meniere’s disease in my head,
the axles that were my knees cannot rise
once they drop, my hips still revolving, slow
but having loved they still wield their instinct,
though I know when I die there are young men
who will stanch her grief. So I would have it
on earth as nothing in heaven will be,
and for the time left, may my sacs fountain
between her thighs and the rain walk the sky
to find oasis.
Old above my waist, I stay young below.
My voice cracks but still sings in minor key.
Her fingers redeem arthritic shoulders
that feel as though I wore a yoke to work
like oxen who can know no greater love
than to labor for mere humanity
whipping them along to plow the furrows,
for all a beast is born to do is work
and eat and sleep and breed before he dies
under sun or moon, doing what he must
to cross time’s gulf.
She knows she is only one of many
too beautiful to forget, remembered
as blessings, one at a time through the years
we roamed. These women were my beloved
teachers, images of our devotions
little pictures in the mind’s gallery,
where memory pays dues like anyone
for whom laughter was a child of kisses,
of gentle touch, each one’s gift wholly balm
where we have walked together the places
on earth we loved.
So many men and women bright with years
returning in their dreams will cross divides
to caress a new love that never fails,
a heart released from the pain a body
abides as long as quick blood flows slowly
through beast, ox, and bear. When they sleep
they will die alone, say biblical charlatans
disguised as men whose only rest is death’s
cradle. Prophets they call themselves, for whom
apocalypse is imagination
and beauty evil
–and there the manuscript ends: a sentence
with no subject, searching for the new verb
that will gather nouns to stage a concert
among those bent upon living again.
When I rock in my chair I remember
the woman who was my second mother,
my mother’s mother with her long red hair
and clear eyes and her daughter’s long legs once
her own, dancing, loving, walking, lonely
for a companion though none could replace
her brave man, rocking in her chair remembering . . .
(17, 25 May 2012)