Exiled

 
Even when she lived, when I walked alone
          in the autumn woods
          the depth was missing

It should not have been

Sun shone through the russet leaves
Shadows stippled the forest floor
Tree trunks stretched away up a slope
          giving depth and beauty

Or should have done

But alone in the woods, I was so alone
          as though all the world’s people
          had taken ship for a paradise

And left me behind

Only when I walked in the woods
          with you
          were they beautiful

Then, ah, then did the solitude
          hang golden and pregnant with it
          welcoming us in

As though divinity resounded in the silence
          brightening the crimsons, deepening the contrasts
          bringing paradise into being on the echo

We were two lovers in the world’s first garden

Even now your presence might give
          me comfort in the woods
          but I cannot reach them

My grief parts me from places
          of restoration and rebirth

 
 
In memory of my mother:
Beauty in the Close
Upwelling
Beacons Unreachable
Too Late
One Crossing
Grievous Loss

 

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No Beauty

 
Once I looked at the fringe of bare winter branches
against the sky’s horizon, and thought
          Nature’s lace, so beautiful

It is still beautiful
          but cold, so cold

Blue sky, cool like the season
black branches, dead without their leaves
          The composition is distant, with no anchorage for my heart

Such abstract beauty beguiled me, when I was
warm, happy
          Anchored

Now I drift in a world strange to me
          the safe harbor is no more

With all havens closed, none open, abstract beauties chill me
already too numb and aching with it
          Find me warmth

But there is no warmth in a world
grown harder and colder
          Barren

There is no succor, no consolation
          no beauty worth the name

 
 
In memory of my mother:
Beauty in the Close
Upwelling
Beacons Unreachable
Too Late
One Crossing
Grievous Loss

 

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Beauty in the Close

          Direct sunlight flattens the sepia leaves
               of the autumnal crepe myrtle

 
          An opaque matte brown, the pointed ovals
               rustle in the breeze

 
          Oh, they are beautiful enough, forming a delicate
               pattern of leaf and frond

 
          But when the sun’s radiance shines through them
               transforming them into the panes of a chapel window

 
          Ah, then they become magical
               glowing rich russet and rose and mahogany
                    a glory of sacred glass
                         revealing the divine foundations

 
          Of everything
 

In memory of my mother:
Upwelling
Beacons Unreachable
Too Late
One Crossing
Grievous Loss

 

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Upwelling

          A fall of leaves, dark red
               spilling from the dogwood spray
                    against the deep green mass of the cedar

 
          Is it heart’s blood?
               No

 
          Trees don’t bleed
               Nor do I

 
          It only feels as though
               my tears were blood
                    when there are no tears, but should be

 
          My loss gapes
               like a wound
                    a desperate wound

 
          But I forgot how to sob
               decades ago

 
          The first time I lost her
               I wept
                    every night I wept, in secret I wept

 
          That time
               she came back from the lost
                    this time there will be no returning

 
          And this time
               I must allow nature to weep for me, bleed for me
                    mirror my loss in this, her season

 

In memory of my mother:
Beauty in the Close
Beacons Unreachable
Too Late
One Crossing
Grievous Loss

 

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Beacons Unreachable

Crowned with gold by the rising sun
         the tree tops taunt me

They reign joyously in their airy empyrean
         illuminated, exalted, beacons unreachable
                   from the vale of shadow in which I stand

Down upon the earth,
         the grasses tangle in an untidy carpet
                   dull and trampled, littered by crumpled brown leaves

The mock orange has lost half its foliage
         and the ragged fronds
                   reveal ivy encroaching from its roots

The memory of bridal blossoms, a mix of glad buds
         half-unfurled petals, and flowers full-blown
                   cannot charm, as unreachable as the crowned oaks

The glory of autumn gone
         nature half-dead lacks the clean clarity of winter
                   messiness drowns in dimness, made yet more dim
                         by the brilliance of the overarching heavens

As the dawning progresses to full morn
         light will reach the shadows, dispelling them

Would that it might reach me
 

In memory of my mother:
Beauty in the Close
Upwelling
Too Late
One Crossing
Grievous Loss

 

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Too Late

          Delicate
               furled soft pink
                    the petals of a late summer rose

 
          The air should be langorous
               abuzz with bees
                    demanding the wafting of a fan for comfort

 
          Matte green
               traced by veins with a hint of red
                    the rose leaves are all they should be

 
          But the air chills my face
               crisp, autumnal
                    and the rose petals are brittle, frozen

 
          The month is November
               not the August
                    to which I cling

 

In memory of my mother:
Beauty in the Close
Upwelling
Beacons Unreachable
One Crossing
Grievous Loss

 

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One Crossing

   now the grief is sharp
   my mother, oh, my mother
   come back, please, come back

 
   let me hear your voice
   let me touch your hand
   let me kiss your cheek

 
   you are dear to me, so dear
   my heart breaks that you have gone
   between one breath and the next you were gone

 
   oh, Mother, my mother
   return to me
   I want you back

 
   the pain is sharp
   but no one returns from that last departure
   I know it even as I beg for your return

 
   between one breath and the next, you slipped from the flesh
   freed spirit sitting easily, smiling
   you stood without thought, happy, and walked onward

 
   there is no crossing the same river twice
   I struggle with that truth
   longing for you

 
   longing
 

In memory of my mother:
Bereaved
Mourning
Grief
Lament
Missing Her
Upwelling
Beauty in the Close
Grievous Loss

 

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Lament

   a fire burnt in my being
 
          in the depths
          in the darkness
          at the heart

 
   fire to create
   fire to love
   fire to be

 
          but grief has translated me through time and space
          away from myself

 
   o, bring me the burning coal
   heart, where is thy passion?
   fire, where is thy flame?

 
   even the ashes are absent

 

In memory of my mother:
Bereaved
Mourning
Grief
Missing Her
One Crossing
Grievous Loss

 

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