floating on his back
my son in river
water, glistening hair touches
sunlight, azure sky, cloud
reflection, i imagine him
alive forever, held in
nature’s undulating womb
He will be 10 next month, but is already wearing a size 9 men’s shoe!
Almost 10 years ago.
My son made 100 baskets,
really quite a feat, for
he’s not a natural athlete.
He stood in the sun
and watched the rim, again
and again and again. Mostly
he missed, but that was
no matter, because he never
quit. And after many minutes
over an hour, in fact,
he drained his last bucket,
arms triumphant in the air.
I hugged him very close
my best moment all summer
All is stillness in Kentucky woods
where fireflies flicker, earthen stars,
one, then another and another.
With my son, we get to sit and stare
together into glowing darkness,
watch floating journeys. He clicks our
flashlight to say hello, then asks me
to stay close before summer slumber.
Breathing softens, he falls asleep.
I lie next to him for many minutes,
let life be at ease. With dawn there
will be another day, but for now this
is all, this is everything.
Sometimes he will just stare
into layered forest, like a
surfer watching waves. Look
closely, poison ivy, ferns, dogwood
flowers. Walk with him, see
downed limbs, branches sprouting
green, but soon to die. Notice
these things, the fallen are
hiking companions. Fractured
Virginia wilderness, hickory, oak,
walnut, redbud, wood that he studies
to know. Even before death some are
stronger than others. Always has
a serrated folding saw, he holds it
steady, cuts five or six feet, bits of
tree dust drift with dragonflies. He
carries these pieces like shouldered
fishing rods. In the basement, whittling
knife separates outer bark from cambium,
sanded before brushed with lacquer to
dry, then shine, touch the earth again,
reflect the gleaming sun.
when my daughter was young we flew a kite
from her wooden deck, bedroom balcony
she held the string, I watched wind
nearby leaves rustling, flapping
nylon snapping, waiting for release
to soar or sink, ever the question
on a day such as this
the two of us standing there wondering
what does it mean to fly away?
I let go, her twine wriggled through fingers
up and up it went
sun stopped for seconds
our fabric patch covering time
I don’t pray every night, but I probably should. After baths, books, conversation with wife, I usually drift into writing, creating, rearranging words on a screen. Mind a whir, could journey depths until dawn, but the clock of calculation, of sanity, of sacred sleep, tells me to stop. I go into my daughter’s room, turn down her light, I love you, I say to her curled up slumber. I meditate in my son’s room, the sound of his breathing, my pew, my stained glass, my sanctuary. Seated, darkness, air in, carbon dioxide out, first minutes filled with brain bouncing from thought to thought, the earlier, the tomorrow, the could happen. Then sometimes the indescribable now, when I’m nowhere, everywhere, witness to all time, and no time at all. Emerge a short life span later, pray for my colleague, that her malignant tumor retreats, allows life, hers to continue. It feels like I could stay forever, talking to God, to no one, to everyone.