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Pearl

When I think of all the hours I stared

at the carvings of a wardrobe making faces in dusk

or listened intently to the sound of monsters unfurling

beyond my bedroom window

and the dust settling on objects belonging to me

sleeping away another day

the sense of time passing

and what we own versus what we only purchase

for this short journey

a pearl within shell

fleeting like a play where all characters

are insubstantial and hardly formed

like voices calling from a great distance

with fog separating their meaning

what do we know of another’s journey

or the grief they store within their silence

what of the godless and their cleave

to make terms with empty skies and

when you lay your head on my lap

in my dark room with no windows

and you whisper all the swallowed hurt

you folded and re-folded within your heart

I cannot say I know where to place such pain

it lingers

like the ghosts of my childhood

and the specters I created

tapping at window panes

snarling beneath the bed

they are only kept at bay by our reason

and I have less and less

but you

you demand notice as the crying child will urge

even weary mothers to unclothe their milk

and my chest burns for wanting to soothe

but nothing comes

not succor

not words

for who can say

it will be all right

when outside the world hefts its mighty sword

and hacks down with seeming impunity

those tender links we make

during our dusty walk

it feels sometimes as if we ought

to cease to observe

and become feral once more

only responding to the urge within us

to outsprint our demise

who wants to witness, to consciously realize

as they diminish toward frailty

and what can the child who has no child

say to her loved ones when they

clamor for her wisdom?

this reversal of roles sits like new flowers

drinking in early sun

knowing less of themselves than the past

I feel my grandmother’s hand

she is somewhere in the light

just a step beyond where I can follow

she tells me to be brave and strong

hold on child, the waves will be high

and you must find purchase

it is the break of my sandals on boulders

the scrabble of my fingers climbing wetly

all the chains of our fears

biting our attempt to defeat

it is harder to do this as you reach

the summit of yourself

where looking out at a drowning world

there are days you wish

not to understand what it is to love

or the pain this will bequeath

when those dear pass beyond

your reach

I can only strike out

one sure step, one uncertain

leaving footprints for myself

in virgin sand

there is no forward, no return

only a circle within a circle

ancestors on one cusp

perhaps a forest between us

for it is not just the heart

but the sound of birds coming home

and the boon of life as it bursts

anew with each day

we cast our nets deep

we gather our grief

and set sail our hope

for one more

one more moment

kept safe against

the crystal wall of waves

sure as day will close

they gather

like women beneath

the moon glow

opalescent

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13 thoughts on “Pearl

  1. Gorgeous! This flows from one image to another, like a tide, or like a wild animal in a cage walking round and round, all linked with a sense of helplessness faced with the reality of what is outside the window. Maybe only someone else’s reality, but who’s to say?

    Like

  2. Candice, at the heart of everything, these are true words.

    “what do we know of another’s journey

    or the grief they store within their silence”

    This is where those wonderful, patient listeners (Gordon Lightfoot called them the “Rainy Day People”). They know when to be present and just listen. I felt the stanza where she lays her head on your lap in the dark solitude. My imagination is the sitter just being there, stroking the other’s hair ready to listen when she is ready to tell.

    Nicely done, Keith

    Like

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