Bright Radiance

The icicle glistens in the sun, liquidity given sculptural form
          yet melting in the light’s warmth
The dripping water taps the porch floor
          like a heartbeat
Regular, reassuring
          All is well
          All is well

I sit in a pool of calm stillness
          at peace for a spell
The sun’s brightness cheers me
Its warmth soothes me
Pervasive brilliance cradling me
          All is well
          I am safe

Even the snow, hateful a moment ago, now upholds me
          receiving the sunlight and spreading it
          everywhere, from horizon to horizon
The whole earth is bright, bright
          with the sun’s radiance

So I rest . . . for now
          upheld by brilliance below
          nourished by brilliance above
          there is only light

Light blazes all round me
          light so strong that in its
          cradling of me, it enters into me
          and shines the darkness away

          Blessed be
          All is well

In memory of my mother:
Cold Rage
No Beauty
Grievous Loss



Cold Rage

          The sky is a hard blue
          I love this shade of blue
                    Usually I love it
                    so bright, so fierce, so definite
                    But today it makes me angry

          The snow is so white, so bright
          I love the fallen snow on a winter’s day
          The light it radiates, reflects, amplifies
                    Usually I love it
                    but today I see its coldness
                    unfriendly, frozen-edged, cutting
                    Today I hate it

          Or, no, I don’t hate it
          I just hate everything

          Hate the medical bills, the unrepaired house
                    the feebleness of my body, my beloved child’s disability
                    unrelenting responsibility, the impossibility of it all
          Hate all of it
          Hate it

          The bright sky over the crusting snow
                    shouts my hatred
                    like an angel of hell
                    like a brazen trumpet

          Or else mocks it
                    mocks me

In memory of my mother:
Bright Radiance
No Beauty
Grievous Loss




The oak is old, gray, and gaunt
No leaves grace his spreading limbs
The sky glows through his framed spaces
      but its light lacks force enough to regenerate him
Anchored in age alone, the patriarch presides

At his side, a maple garbs herself in dress of gold
She is younger, but not young
The dull splendor of her leaves inspires courtesy
      but their beauty presages her withering
Poised on the cusp of decline, the matriarch glances back

Nature goes down to death for rebirth
The cold, dark entombs her in frozen earth for only a season
Spring’s strengthening sun will raise her from the deeps
      but change the maple and the oak for a human daughter and her father
Facing only loss, they grieve

In latening autumn, they stand, they two
      lost to hope
      lost to warmth

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




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
Beacons Unreachable
Too Late
One Crossing
Grievous Loss



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

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

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

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



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:
Beacons Unreachable
Too Late
One Crossing
Grievous Loss




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

          Is it heart’s blood?

          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



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
Too Late
One Crossing
Grievous Loss



Too Late

               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
Beacons Unreachable
One Crossing
Grievous Loss



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


In memory of my mother:
Missing Her
Beauty in the Close
Grievous Loss