NPWM Day 4: Waiting

Spring rain kisses the windshield

As I sit in the humid car

And wait for you

My fingers drum the steering wheel

Following an erratic rhythm

Of the song in my head

Lightly falls the rain

Drops collecting, combining,

Snaking their way down the glass

I watch them slide away

But my eyes unfocus

And I am gazing past them

At nothing in particular

My eyes wait for you

To emerge through the rain

Like a vision, like a dream

But you do not part the raindrops like a curtain

You do not push the clouds back like a scroll

You do not show up at all

My fingers stop their drumming

My eyes stop their searching

The rain stops its falling

And I slowly drive away

Still waiting

NPWM Day 1: Infinite

You and I are infinite

How many times

How many lives

Have we locked eyes

and known

 

Iterations

Variables

Nothing constant but

your hand over my heart and

my head tucked under your chin

 

Worlds upon worlds

Have witnessed our story unfold

Never the same twice

I lost you

I saved you

I hated you

I loved you

But in all, I knew you

And you knew me

And that is everything

That is infinite

Older Now

Lights

 

You grip the steering wheel just a little tighter,

and we plunge into the semi-darkness of the tunnel.

The weight of a mountain presses close around us

as we fling our way through the heart of the earth

at sixty miles an hour

and the lights, beacons spaced evenly in the dark,

flash past.

I close my eyes and imagine

that days and nights are passing by

each time the light washes against my eyelids.

I slip into the stream of time,

a quick succession.

When we emerge from the tunnel,

how much time has passed?

How many days and nights?

I’m older now by far.

NPM: Jack and Joy

Inspired by C.S. Lewis’ “A Grief Observed,” in which he chronicles his own grieving process after losing his wife Joy to cancer.

 

A grief that feels like fear

The tight fist of a heart

The sudden cold sweat

Short, shallow breaths

And the edginess of being pursued

The awful moment of waking up in the night

And wondering why the world feels so wrong

That confusion then being eclipsed

By the horror of remembering, realization

 

 

Colors really are flat

Friends once thought charming really are dull

Conversations that might have been interesting

Are now so much empty, grating air

Full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing

Because when you left,

You took it all with you

 

 

It terrifies me to think

I might regress to the

Pitiful creature I was before you

Before I knew what it was

To be loved by you

And what it was to love you

Even now I feel the creeping thought–

“Maybe it won’t be so bad.

See? You almost felt normal for a moment there.”

Not so bad without a beating heart

Without sight or taste

Not so bad to float in a numb haze,

Only periodically pierced by a thousand hot knives

 

 

I let myself remember you,

But your face is a blurred smudge

How could it be otherwise?

I saw it from every angle,

Gripped with every possible emotion

One image in memory

Could never capture it

Your eyes– I can’t quite recall the color

Only the feeling

And that alone reduces me

to a whimpering child

NPM: The Handless Watch

Monsieur Cotillier had not always been

the remarkable person of fable.

He was once just a child

By the name of Armand

who slept on the hay in a stable.

 

And little Armand woke up every morning

to care for the cows and the hens.

He’d work through the day,

then lay down and pray,

and sleep to start over again.

 

A less magical life can scarce be imagined.

Armand knew that this was his lot.

Until one day there came

a traveling market

and everything changed on the spot.

 

For after the milking and feeding was done,

Young Armand snuck off to the fair.

He saw trinkets and baubles

straight out of his dreams,

enchantment hung thick in the air.

 

A two headed-lizard spoke sonnets of love,

Cards built themselves up into towers.

And out of a wagon,

a wizened old woman

sold beautiful crystallized flowers.

 

Such blossoms have never been seen on this earth

They delighted and dazzled the boy.

Each perfect cut bloom

so vivid and sharp

filled Armand with ineffable joy.

 

The woman looked up and noticed the child

admiring all of her wares.

“Long have I waited

for you, my dear boy.”

Armand could do nothing but stare.

 

She reached into her shawl and pulled out a chain.

A pocketwatch hung from one end.

“This is for you, child.

Now open it up,

It’s time for your tale to begin.

 

Time and Fate are two faces of the very same coin

Together they bend and are bent.

So why should a watch

tell only the Time,

but not Fate, to a certain extent?”

 

Wide-eyed, Armand took and opened the watch,

and stared into a face without hands,

but he heard a small voice

that spoke right in his ear

and revealed a bit of Future’s plans.

 

“You will travel, Armand, you will see wondrous things.

You’ll face danger, betrayal, and fear.

You’ll know love ever-true

but it is not for you

to spend life with the one you hold dear.

 

And much like this bazaar, from your travels afar,

you’ll collect many wonders exquisite.

People will come to you

for a glimpse of true magic.

Only once in their lives can they visit.

 

So go, dear sweet boy, and don’t lose the joy

you hold in your heart like a flame.

You are destined for greatness,

But never forget

the humble start from whence you came.”

 

When Armand looked up from the watch’s blank face

A shiver ran all down his spine,

for the market was gone

and no sound could be heard

but the whistle of wind in the pines.

NPM: The Stringless Violin

The streets of Vienna are gilded with frost
as a gentleman moves through the night.
At first it would seem that the man is quite lost
till a door cracks and spills out some light.

The man whirls around and laughs loudly and clear
then hurries toward the threshold.
He embraces a woman with thick raven hair
who bids him come in from the cold.

The man shakes the snow from his coat and then turns
to find the hearth merrily blazing.
The woman is bustling around the small room
and he can’t keep from furtively gazing.

Her hair is as dark as the day they first met.
Her lips are the color of wine.
Her eyes dance and laugh when they rise to meet his,
and her smile just for him is divine.

Though his fondness and longing seem so evident,
his manner becomes more reserved.
For their history’s filled with unspoken desires,
and through silence their friendship’s preserved.

The woman has noticed his sobering mood,
and with a sad smile she collects
the item he came for, which she had procured,
though it’s nothing like what he expects.

A case lined with velvet, with clasps made of gold
opens to reveal a violin.
Its wood simply glows, but its shortcoming shows
for there’s nothing where strings should have been.

The man looks confused, though the instrument’s fine,
he had thought it would be more arcane.
But the lady still smiles and brushes the neck
of a violin far from mundane.

At her feather-light touch a sonorous note
rings out with a tremor so sweet
and the room fills with music so achingly pure
the enchantment it weaves is complete.

The man’s eyes fill with tears as the notes harmonize
for the music is tender and sad.
It sings of a love unrequited for years,
and a future that cannot be had.

He buries his face in his hands as he sighs,
then feels a light touch on his wrist.
“This song is ours,” the woman reveals,
“It’s the story of all that we’ve missed.”

He kisses her palm, holds it tight to his cheek,
then rises and closes the case.
He moves to the door, turns the knob and looks back
for one final glance at her face.

And as their eyes meet, an affection untempered
passes between, multiplied.
And still to this day, the violin plays
the theme of a love that never died.

NPM: The Clockwork Bird

A fable is told round the nightly campfire

of a nomadic deep-desert clan

Of a magical bird made of wheels, gears, and cogs

And a curious, marvelous man

 

It was years ago now when the man came to stay

after wandering through the white sands

He appeared in a shimmer just like a mirage

Unmistakably from foreign lands

 

He approached their silk tents, executed a bow

and politely inquired of the chief

If he’d heard of a bird made of metal and gems

Or reports of an infamous thief

 

The chief simply refused to speak of the matter

till they each drank three cups of mint tea

The man grinned and nodded, delighted at once

by the tribesman’s hospitality

 

They entered a tent draped with rich printed silks

strewn with pillows of fine filigree

The sweet smell of incense hung thick in the air

As they drank the three cups of their tea

 

The chief cleared his throat and said, “Surely you’ve learned

that I am the one whom you seek.

I’ve known you would come, for my wife is a seer.

And she told me we needed to speak.

 

Yes, I stole the bird from the sultan’s fine palace

thinking only of riches and gain,

but the false bird is cursed and I’ll give it to you,

for it’s brought to me nothing but pain.”

 

The foreign man smiled and sipped his mint tea

and waited a bit to reply.

“I know of the curse. If you’ll give me the bird,

I’ll take it away by and by.”

 

From a chest of acacia carved over with vines,

the chief lifted a bundle wrapped tight.

When he opened the cloth, a bright glint of gold

shimmered in the candlelight.

 

A mechanical bird then perched in his hand

inlaid with fine precious stones.

It stretched out its wings, and whistled a tune

that shook the man down to his bones.

 

From his worn leather pack, the man lifted a cage

of intricate ivory make.

He opened the door, the bird flew inside,

And the chief realized his mistake.

 

The cage was the key to keeping the bird.

Without it, the curse took effect.

The cunning thief-king thought to steal back the bird

and the cage that would keep it in check.

 

His eyes quickly hardened, he reached for his sword;

it was as the strange gentleman feared.

But in the next moment, the man tipped his hat,

took the cage in hand and disappeared.