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Afternoon Light

from a work in progress, “process, not a journey”(69)

the grey cat sits

on the table by the window

and watches the mockingbird

on the elm outside

.

I watch her patience

today and yesterday

and last week

and think she’s oblivious

to sit so stoically

day after day

without hope

of any desires’

consummation

.

I lose my way each day

throughout the day

thinking of this

then distracted by that

as if the unspecified contains 

some mysterious truth

more than a cat

sitting in the sun

(June 28, 2020)

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nostalgia’s a desire for the present

from a work in progress: “process, not a journey” (64)

what he remembers now

is different than what

he remembered then

.

now he is old

and does not remember

as well what happened

.

then he was young

and foolish and remembered

trivial things

.

of little use then

even less so

now

.

as he holds 

his aspects together

between fragile hands

.

facets of the past

spin off light

for a moment

.

and he sees her eyes

that first night

they almost kissed

(June 16, 2020)

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Dream Journal 37: He Woke to a Memory Which Only Happened in Metaphor

As they walked, she spoke and collected items she saw along the trail. A kind of reverse Hansel and Gretel: instead of finding her way back by dropping bread crumbs, she wanted to become lost, and collected markers which would have shown their way home.  Finally, she asked if he would read a draft of something she wrote. He disliked reading friend’s work (it was all too intimate: entering another’s mind), but he said for her he would. He lay down on the soft grass, entranced by her voice. She told a story as she placed the objects she had found (an acorn, a feather, a stone, a dead butterfly, a ribbon) in a shallow hole next to where he lay. After a while, he sat up and glanced at the objects in the hole. He said, it’s like a witch’s ingle. She laughed gently, and began to loosely tie his hands with the ribbon as she finished her story. He watched her dark eyes focus on the task, becoming lost in their intensity. When she was done, she said to him, now you’re supposed to untie yourself, and become free. He said, one would first have to want to be free. With nothing more to say, she walked away leaving him in the woods.

(April 1, 2020)

with options of desire and defeat

from a work in progress: “process, not a journey” (8)

I don’t want

to be a salmon struggling

upstream to spawn and die

exhausted and decayed

nor

to be swept downstream

with broken branches and silt

into a churning sea

I want to be

a catfish

calm and content

deep within a silent pool

(January 12, 2020)

Mistranslations

My past imperfections intercede

to lay claim to what I can see.

The air between thickens in time

like delirious veils in the wind.

Each word she spoke I heard

as if her fingers on my arm

traced a secret in braille

I was too blind to read.

*

Now too tired to transform time,

I watch myself as if dead;

the chill pushes through my flesh,

like a rat gnawing in the wall.

Time’s translations fill my silence

with the words neither of us spoke.

(December, 20, 2019)

The FrogPrince Without Standing

He sat by his pond content

with the depth of his longing.

Then one day, she dropped in

laughing her way into his dream.

He thought he heard a splash,

and a glimmer near the bottom.

She played along the pond’s edge,

waiting for what he might bring.

When he returned to the surface,

the forest was dark and she was gone.

The castle was so far away—

and it was just a toy after all.

He sat by his pond discontented

with the depth of his longing.

(November 4, 2019)

An Early Spring Day in Paris, 1984

The Seine flows

endlessly

around us.

We sit on the tip

of the Ile de la Cite

as if on a boat’s bow,

sailing up the river.

The sun shines,

like a promise,

after days of cold rain.

We drink a decent Bordeaux,

eat fresh pate smeared

across chunks of ubiquitous baguette.

Notre Dame looms

darkly behind

in its medieval bulk.

We are in love, as we

are still forty years later.

Nearby,

above a former morgue,

is a memorial

to the two hundred thousand martyrs

handed over to the Nazis by the Vichy

for deportation to the camps

forty years before we sat happily

oblivious to all but the beauty

of that one Parisian afternoon.

(September 19, 2019)