The Day After the Solstice

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Rain falls through a more frigid drizzle,
rippling the pond that had just the day before
been frozen over — the temperature skates
a few degrees upward and the world is altered.

Without the ice, a pair of buffleheads return
to paddle about the dark waters,
interrupting their loafing with the occasional dunk
below to feed, before popping back into view
as if nothing has happened.
For them this is not a season of turning inwards,
of slumber under heavy blankets. As for me,
I had struggled to rouse myself out into these bone-chill winds,
but there were errands to run. Surrendering
like the heart that is slow to wake from its tribulations,
but wakes all the same,
I lean into the day of a brief and bashful sun.

The Day After the Solstice

Between Two Seas

[The following poem is based on a story I came across many moons ago in a newspaper article from July of 1962: an open water swimmer twenty-four-year-old Mary Margaret Newell from Detroit became the first woman to successfully swim the length of the Bosphorus Strait, completing the 19 miles in 4 hours, 53 minutes and 11 seconds.]

Her parents called her our little fish,
but she knew, seasick and thrashed,
she was human, swimming out there
in the exacting open waters,
in the congested wake of cargo ships and tankers,
of small wooden crafts with their outboards sputtering
back to the docks of Istanbul,

out there
where the Black Sea had been left behind and
the Sea of Marmara still only a possibility,
where she cut through oil skims
and surface dregs with its taste of pollutants,
where the strident crosscurrents
punished her, her muscles like hot metal
being hammered, her body like pebbles in salt water
that seemingly sought to dissolve
the glue that held them together,

out there
becoming
in the hand over hand,
in the kick,
in the breath,
the persistent refusal.

Between Two Seas

The Day After the Solstice

Rain falls through a more frigid drizzle,
rippling the pond that had just the day before
been frozen over — the temperature skates
a few degrees upward and the world is altered.
Without the ice, a pair of buffleheads return
to paddle about the dark waters,
interrupting their loafing with the occasional dunk
below to feed, before popping back into view
as if nothing has happened.
For them this is not a season of turning inwards,
of slumber under heavy blankets. As for me,
I had struggled to rouse myself out into these bone-chill winds,
but there were errands to run. Surrendering
like the heart that is slow to wake from its tribulations,
but wakes all the same,
I lean into the day of a brief and bashful sun.

The Day After the Solstice

Father’s Tattoo

he never drew attention to the fading lines
bruised blue and black on the forearm
vague insignia from the days when stationed in Japan

except for a day a few years before he passed
when he pointed to it and told me
don’t you get one of these

and i responded as a child will do with something like
okay

this is how we become tethered to another:
the uncomplicated ask
followed by the simple promise
that is held for the whole scope of a life

Father’s Tattoo

Fault

a neighbor in the early evening grows tired
of the hollering on the other side of the wall
and considers calling the police
except he doesn’t
having remembered
other raised voices

a neighbor in the late evening awakes in his chair
(the light of a nearby lamp
vanquishes the dream
although the heart still thumps)
and leans forward
but if they were home
he does not hear them

Fault

Just After the Last Vestige of Grief Goes Missing

the morning light will reveal
the windows to be in need of cleaning

a ritual phrase — first things first —  said while grinding coffee
will be said

the kitchen will be puttered about
a few dishes in the sink will be cleaned by hand and left
to be air dried
a small pad of paper used to make shopping lists
will not be located in the junk drawer
so window cleaner will be jotted down on the back on envelope
and after the a couple of moments
light bulbs

that the coffee has turned cold
will be of no matter

Just After the Last Vestige of Grief Goes Missing

What Drives Us

broken down on the mountain road
that follows a curving
creek
glacial in its beginnings
and the ravine
seeming to sulk

we should have been home by then
not passing time til the tow-truck rescue

with you in the car
protected

from those winds pushing
the gray sheets overhead

and me
tripping through the underbrush
towards the creek

later i stood on its bank not sure it was the wind
making the trees bend
and creak

then hopped from rock to rock
toward the other side
daring the waters
to pull me in

 

What Drives Us

Love As Vast

love as vast
as the flood waters
that surround
the stranded
who signal with waving arms
to those far away

November Shadorma: 30 of 30

Well here we are at the end of ShaNov. For me it’s been an intriguing challenge (I don’t know what it means that my mind keeps sliding to flood waters as if appearing again and again in a dream). I hope the other awesome fellows who participated have enjoyed their time and effort. I put out there that I will be taking a Shadorma break in December, but that starting in January I might begin Shadorma Sunday. Now I give you the awesome fellows who participated:

A Prayer Like Gravity

Gramma Krackers

Lauren Scott

Kat Mortensen

Seasonings

Ben Naga

Jane Dougherty

Merril Smith

Ken G.

Kerfe and Nina

corvus brachyrhnchos

Ladyleemanila

Linda Lee Lyberg

Janice

Kelly Lewis

Love As Vast

Redemption

flood waters
flowing through the fields
sweeps away
our debris
answers a cleansing prayer
carries you to me

Shadorma November: 26 of 30

Check out the awesome folks below who are participating in ShaNov:

A Prayer Like Gravity

Gramma Krackers

Lauren Scott

Kat Mortensen

Seasonings

Ben Naga

Jane Dougherty

Merril Smith

Ken G.

Kerfe and Nina

corvus brachyrhnchos

Ladyleemanila

Linda Lee Lyberg

Janice

Kelly Lewis

 

Redemption