When Camel-heavy lungs finally shrank
my father’s world to a bed by the window,
on sunny winter days his bed
became a beach where he lay,
pajama top unbuttoned, hairless chest
exposed, the whooshing surf
of the oxygen tank now pleasing.
And the sun, unmitigated by a pane of glass
or the pain of a rationed breath,
was kindness itself, bestowing the
warmth of many hands it seemed,
keeping the dying fire inside aglow
long after it reached the end
of his square footage of sky.
Today’s sunshine reminded me of this poem, first published in “Best of Kindness 2017” by the Origami Poems Project. My father never lived to see this poem but he told me that the best last days of his life were as I’ve attempted to describe.
through the cherry trees:
a thousand blossoms
to the ground below.
Though soon to die
they danced in the breeze
like beautiful lovers
It seemed the trees
reached for them,
that the birds sang louder
with the squirrels chit-chattering.
It seemed the ants looked up
from their mad black scramble,
that we saw the grass billowing,
and the sun, wanting to touch
every petal, and the enormous lake
of sky, spilling down.
It seemed we all swam as one
for a moment, and belonged
in the world that way.
Though I promised to post a variation of the previous poem, this seemed a more fitting poem right now, written a lifetime ago. First published as an honorable mention for the Arborealis Prize in 2012. When we can travel again, I’ll return to the Mazatlán poem. May you and yours keep healthy!
Variable, the pastures hooved by lives
in full gallop, unbridled by time:
beneath the immutable drift of the sun
move the rounded and risen,
the angled and gleaming, the limbs,
wings, fins sweating with use.
Unstoppably given to their one life.
As the light gives unstoppably—
teacupped in petals, glowing
in a green persuasion of leaves,
slipping through salt-licked grains
of sand, lifted high on a spread
wing, in the flash and splash
of a salmon’s fin, between a deer’s
leap and a dog’s outstretched paw.
And this, the monopoly of earth’s
home star: a bright creeping
into the rooms behind closed doors.
This is night’s good pupil, daily bent
over the riveting texts of our world,
whose gaze, upon turning
a sudden last page, stays warm
on the straightening back of a man,
warm on his unstoppable hands.