Lost

img_0137

Lost

My body’s house has many rooms and you, my love,
walk through them all. Your shadow dances on walls,
in mirrors, and your breath brushes my cheek

every time I open doors or windows. That silly cat
looks for you and hisses when I bring her kibble.
I move from room to room, but when I seek you,

you are no longer here. I knock, nothing opens.
Afraid, sometimes, to enter a room, I know
you are in there. I hear your footsteps on the stair.

Sometimes your voice seems to break the silence.
You whisper my name in the same old way.
How can it be true, my love, that you have gone,

that you have left me here alone? I count the hours,
the days, embracing dust motes. I find no solace
in salacious sunbeams and my occasional dreams.

Comment: Regular visitors to this blog will probably recognize this poem. It is a rewrite of an earlier one, also bearing the title Lost (click here for earlier post). I rewrote, or rather, reorganized the structure of the poem, added some words, and subtracted others. I did this earlier this summer while Clare was in Ottawa visiting our daughter and grand-daughter. And yes, I missed her. I always do when she in not present or I am away. Comments on either version will be welcome, particularly if you prefer one version over the other.

Welsh Miners

img_0184

Miners

What has become of the caged
canary who lit up my life?
I hear the pit pines creaking.
Now nobody dares strike a match.

Birds descending in an iron cage,
our lungs blackened and scarred,
scared, we sing dark hymns
knowing we are doomed.

On hands and knees, we crawl
to the coal-black altars of our gods.
Blind from birth, pit ponies
trust us in their solitudes.

Don’t they know that when
the canary falls from its perch,
we’ll abandon them and claw
our way, anywhere, to safety?

Within the chalk tomb-tunnels
of my calcined skull,
a lone thought searches
an abandoned mine for a memory
it can no longer find.

Book Burning

IMG_0192

Book Burning

A sharp-edged double sword,
this down-sizing,
this clearing out of odds and ends.

Library shelves emptying.
books disappearing, one by one.

So many memories
trapped between each page,
covers, dust-bound now,
dust to dust and books to ashes.

Sorrowful, not sweet, each parting,
multiple losses, characters
never to be met again,
except in dreams.

Heroes, thinkers, philosophers, poets,
their life work condemned to conflagration.

Alpha: such love at their beginnings.
Omega: such despair,
with Guy Fawkes celebrations
the means to their ends.

Word-fires:
the means of forging
those book worlds that surrounded us.

Bonfires:
the means to end them.

Steadfast, the book-fires,
flames fast devouring

all but an occasional volume
snatched, burnt fingers,
from the flames.

Fire Storm

IMG_0038

Fire Storm

Yesterday, it was difficult to breathe.
We inhaled dust and ashes as smoke
from forest fires scuttled towards us,
carried piggy-back on a strong west wind.

Today, the wind herds clouds into aerial castles,
pinnacles and pyramids piled upwards,
tall ships’ canvases painted dark, thundery,
raised by fierce wedges thrust beneath them,
lofting them into darkening skies.

Beyond a certain height, water becomes ice.
Particles group together. Hail stones form,
small at first, growing ever larger
until the very air can no longer bear
their weight. Golf ball big,  they tumble down
the sky’s steep ladder and fall to earth.

The dry drum roll of distant thunder rumbles.
A scissor-slash of light shreds black skies.
An executioner’s hay wain rolls towards us,
a runaway train destined to tear our lives
apart. It leaves us helpless, clamoring for safety,
our world torn apart, our earth sore wounded.

Death scythes away downing rich and poor alike.
Who now knows which way thrown dice will fall?
The dye’s sharp edge, once cast, cuts like a blade.
Hailstones clatter, battering us down.

 

Tigger’s Return

Avila 2008 003

Tigger’s Return
aka
Recrossing the Rainbow Bridge

I opened the car door. He ran across the parking lot,
jumped into the back seat. “Where have you been?” I asked.
He thumped his great tail, sniffed, and licked the hand I held out.

We drove back home with his head thrust between the seats,
his paw on my shoulder as he licked my ear and my face.
I pulled into the garage and let him out of the car.

He raced to the road, surveyed the neighborhood,
and drilled an invisible hole into the snow. I whistled.
He ran to the door, whimpering impatiently.

I opened it and he bounded in. “You’re home now,” I said.
He ran to the cat’s bowl, lapped some water, scoffed her kibble,
and curled up under the table in his usual place.

At night, he lies beside me, a fluffy spoon carved into
my body’s curve. Each morning he walks through the kitchen
and doesn’t make a sound. The cat bristles and hisses.

He’s sitting beside me now, head on my knee, as I type.
I haven’t told anyone that he’s back. They’d think I was mad.
It’s good to have him here even when nobody else can see him.

The Return

IMG_0087 (2)

The Return

This time last year I returned to KIRA for a visit after my one month artist’s residency. I have been back several times since, but each return is always more difficult than the last. Memories are golden and the reality of the return is never quite the same. Here’s the link to last year’s post on my first return to KIRA: KIRA Return July 2017 .

You can never walk in the same river twice (Heraclitus). This is what makes the return always so difficult. It is like the spoken word that, once spoken, can never be reclaimed.

I guess the return is more difficult for some people than for others. There are so many places to which I have never returned: Cardiff, Gower, and Swansea (Wales), Bath, Bournemouth, Bristol, Christchurch, Frome, Gloucester, Hengistbury, and Wick (England), Oaxaca (Mexico), Avila, Bilbao, Elanchove, Madrid, and Santander (Spain).

These place names scratch memory’s surface, no more, for there are places within those places, also never to be seen again, save in old photos and dreams. Yes, my dreams are tinged with sadness, the sadness of remembering. There is also the great joy of having been there, of having borne witness to this moment and that. Time and memories slip through grasping fingers like water or sand. The ephemeral: it will never last, even though we catch it for a moment in a photo or a verse.

 

Torticollis

Avila 2007a 039

Torticollis

A sudden crick of the neck and I am back in the chalet at Perines with Trini.

“Torticollis,” she says, raising a hand to her neck, except she says it in Spanish, ‘tortículis’.

She offers me tea, very English, from the Wedgewood tea pot I brought her, all those years ago. Beside her, the Pirate with the Parrot on his Shoulder, my Toby Jug, still stands on guard, and protects my memories.

Orphaned, I was, from England, abandoned on that Spanish shore, and left there all summer to learn the language. Trini taught me how to eat, speak, choose my books and my friends … she had lost a son, same age as me, just after the Civil War, and treated me like her son, returned, like the Prodigal Son I was to all who had sent me away from home to improve my lifestyle and my manners.

Wanted? Unwanted by my family? I wouldn’t know the difference.

In that far-of land, in time and space,  I only knew the loneliness of being lost, marooned in a foreign land, feeling my way, day by day, among foreigners, still foreign, although they took me into their homes and hearts and loved me as I had never been loved before.

Back home, drowsing  at the kitchen table, I doze into my dreams, only to be woken by that beloved voice.

Wistful, I turn my head and glance backwards into that past of sunshine and beaches, where the sun sparkled on hill, sand, and sea and the table cloth was spread on the family table, pure and white, with a dozen of us sitting, talking, smiling, drinking wine, that bottled sunshine that still adorns my dining room table.

“Trini? Is that you?”

Her name slips from my lips as I snap my head towards her voice. As I turn, I twist my neck and raising my hand to the sudden pain, I hear again that word: “¡Tortículis!”