Tristitia

Everything she wrote to me was in a stray language: the things she lost, the moments she stopped reaching for. I knew she held her breath when she described how the light scattered in the summer kitchen and lit up the morning dust, the dim aromas of a particular breakfast of eggs and boiled potatoes and fresh cream, the dread of the bedroom walls that were closing in, too close, too soon.

A husband, once, or so she cited. Her tales were unreliable, but she told them with such vigor, such conviction! He was thrown from a horse named Tristitia, a tall beast of 18-hands. There were no photographs of either horse or man, no wedding portraits, no markers of his passing. And how she mourned him. For all those years, she mourned a man she would not name, a man no one else could remember.

Her poetry was slight but longing: delicate lines written in pencil, sometimes scrawled so softly that they were impossible to read. She knew them by heart, could recite them, days and years after having written them. Hundreds of pages, locked away, and hidden. She remembered the words, but not where she had buried them. Or burned them. She knew them well, and, over time, I could almost recite them with her.

Everything she wrote to me was in a stray language: the things she suffered, the moments she ached for. And I, alone, continue to look for them, on her behalf and my own.

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geographies

 

 

Of things to come

We did not know each other in
the years before she died.
We did not reach to clean up the
viscera of our disappointed blood.
The map lines between our geographies
seemed sturdier and safer
than the tree lines of our biology.
We did not know each other in
the years before you died.

Communiqué

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We come from solid work stock, you and I,

and we walk these final miles with tired backs,

towards a paper-plated Friday night.

You search your purse for your keys while I

watch a slim parchment of moon

dissolve across the snow.

There are clues here, I think, to everything.

The accumulation of our wet breaths etches

a communiqué across the front door window,

but you erase it

with the heel of your glove before

it can be jotted down on one of our sagging calendars.

We wear the same boots we wore six years ago,

the same scarves,

through the same tired hallway,

you first,

and I close the door behind us and

the snow melt is already turning brown.

You glance

at the litter of words I scribbled this morning

on the old motel stationery beside the phone.

I forgot what I wrote,

maybe a dentist appointment, maybe a confession,

maybe a dream I wanted to tell you about

before I forgot.

Here in the darkness, we compare our days

with clumsy smiles and cold hands.

We come from solid work stock, you and I,

and the miles have fallen behind us.

Thank you

 

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To all who follow this blog, a sincere and humble thank you. May this be a time of blessings and joy, now and into the new year.

I recently suffered a heart attack, but now I’m home, resting with my wife Angela.

Thank you again for all your concerns and well wishes, they are very much appreciated. — Steve

The yellow-leafed tree

The veil between dreams

My eyes abide the blighted light
of the yellow-leafed tree.
Please set my stone here
and let us both rest.
But please stop and listen —
I know you can hear it,
the grief in my spirit,

and you see the fraying of my days,
my finite breaths
fading away.

I still lean into old memories,
away from you,
away from who
I wanted to be.

I did not expect to be loved so well.

The storm

We sit cross-legged on the scatter rug and listen to the rain peck at the windows. The water fractures itself against the screen and it draws patterns I want to trace with my fingers. We have a box of candles on the kitchen table, for when the dark comes back inside. She leans into me whenever the rain turns loud, and her face is solemn and so still. Outside, the wind carves itself into the hickory trees. She can’t hear me offer up comfort, so I lean back into her. We listen. We wait.