You are a writer,
so you know
that it is a terrible thing–
this act of writing.
You make yourself vulnerable with every word.
Even more so with poetry.
You must distill the truth about yourself
into something quickly consumed
and easily judged.
Few things scare me,
but this baring of the soul
is exquisite anguish.
Sometimes I can still feel
Your fingers tracing lazy circles
On my shoulder
Your arm draped around me
On a summer’s night
The taste of honey and whiskey
On my tongue
The song of the cicadas
Humming beneath the lines of Shakespeare
As we watched a play in the park
A phantom touch
That feels like yesterday
And not years ago
Two cardinals hopped
Through the budding branches
Of my Japanese maple today
A mated pair
And I was transfixed
By the color of the female
Normally, the males are revered
For their vivid red hue
So bright and unusual
But her tones were subdued
The colors of the dawn
Soft cream, pale yellow
And the flush of purest rose
She was the morning sky
The promise of a new day
And to me, her subtle beauty
Far outshone her flashy consort
There is fresh glory in the overlooked–
And in us
Have you ever watched
As the crawl of time
And the sprawl of distance
And the weight of responsibilities
And the busyness of the mundane
Turned dearest friends
I looked about myself one day
Like a shell-shocked soldier
And wondered how this happened.
How did I end up here alone?
As if I wasn’t at the helm
Of my own life
And this was all an unpleasant surprise
Rather than the result of
The choices I made
I keep the book you gave me
On my mantel as decor
I see it every day
My eyes skate past it
As I go about my routine
The rhythms of a solitary life
Or if I see it, it’s just a part of
My collected pieces on display
One book of a few
When my eyes lit on it
And I thought of you
And the memory stuck fast
Like a bramble to my skin
A pang that dulled to an ache
For what was or might have been
I hope it will go back to being
Just another book again
Hope can be a painful thing
to keep alive
to watch your dream die
It hurts like hell
to resign yourself to letting go
But to keep the flame burning
Is its own hell, even so
I dreamed of what my life could be
Of cities, loves, and being free
To win a heart, to take a name
To weather change, to stay the same
I dreamed of music building slow
I dreamed a whisper, close and low
Beloved face, familiar form
I dreamed the other pillow warm
But cold the bed, the empty home
I wake to find myself alone
Things are not as they had seemed
And thus, the dying of a dream
In all my life, I’ve never truly seen the stars
I’ve seen only pictures of what the sky should be
Cleared of smog and human light
Glutted from horizon to horizon
With galaxies of stars
And I know, deep in my chest
That when I see the unpolluted sky
Someday, somewhere far from every man
I will weep
At the beauty
At my smallness
At the sheer scope
And the incredible weight of glory
That is hidden from my sight every day of my life
Just above me
Out of reach
In that moment I will weep
For all that I will have gained
And immediately lost again.
Once, you made a promise to a lonely man.
You took him out into the twilight,
And lifted his eyes to the swirling crush of galaxies.
“Your children will outnumber the stars.”
His gaze swept the heavens-
Multitude pinpricks of light-
Until his eyes were filled with starlight and grateful tears.
I stand beneath that same darkened sky,
But the stars aren’t so visible anymore,
Overcome by lights of our own design.
The promise is dim.
One star burns above, alone,
And I wonder if this might be
Moonlight pools in the furrowed fields.
Each grain-topped stalk reaches up
To caress the dark sky’s face.
A hush has fallen over our common earth,
But the heavens are alive with song.
The stars pour forth melodies, harmonies,
Endless arias, spiraling refrains.
Their silver voices sing clear in the night.
Who but God has ears to listen?
Who but God and his legions of angels?
If we could hear but one chord of that song,
We would never again doubt the beauty of existence
Or the perfection of eternity to come,
Wrapped in the symphonies of heaven.