Worldview

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I screamed
when I first saw him,
a bounding black cloud
thundering toward my horizon:
a boy looking for a friend.

He stayed with us
until that day
I had to stack the shelves and sweep the floors,
direct customers to the canned
whole chickens in aisle five

while They did whatever it is They do
to friends who once escaped the yard
to find
me at school during recess and
the principal let me walk him home but
who can’t walk anywhere anymore.

So, I get it.

But when my son’s eyes are red-rimmed and
welling with rage at yet one more
failure / betrayal / Talk
with a father trying too hard
because

he knows what’s coming demands more than
paper-or-plastic or expired milk or stray carts and
his son bears the brunt of that fear until
their ties twist taut and love becomes
a strained and brittle mask,

please forgive my snicker at your dog-parent sticker.

Castles

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‘I don’t know,’ I say to those who ask.
And I don’t. Know.
Why the spires, rifts, domes.
Why the channels, depressions, slopes.
Why spheres.
‘Maybe you should’, says my son, ‘build an actual…castle?’
But I know
what those are, and what they’re for.
So they stop to explore these abstralien sandscapes,
wondering
at the meaning of my creation, and my purpose.
No plan guides my tremorous fingers that
mold and shape and smooth the forms
that form without me.
Arches fall and towers crumble, collapse under
misplaced knees and thoughtless feet.
These places weren’t meant to be, let alone
last even through a day or night or hour.
They are self-serving, imposing haphazard order
on an idle chaos minding its own business.
God took six days, so they say, plus time to rest,
yet I spare only the morning
because I have other plans.
They, too, are as hasty in their admiration which
so fickley turns to mischievous destruction by
toddlered toes, unleashed paws, and cruelty.
Even seagulls are dismissive of my walls, perching with
prejudice until the structures crack to expose
my lack, and my depravity.
Six days seems equally rash, short-sighted and shrifted
given the scope of eternity, of all the hairs on all our heads.
So we blear and smear and have trod among
God’s almighty spires in ignorance and arrogance,
wondering
at His meaning, and His purpose.
Yet He had no other plans and
His fingers do not tremble, and
His walls were built counting on our cruelty to
crack them
and expose yet more layers of perfection.

Echolocation

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The soul dawdles, lingers in the past;
trailing fingers along the surface
of what should have been delved
long before.

Ripples expand to reflect the outline
of regret, the shapes we missed, then,
yet now perceive with sorrowful joy
until the soul startles and wakes,
cries for our attention:
Wait!

Physics

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sweating, struggling, we’re lugging
the bin over grass and gravel,
sticks and stones
to the mound of broken trees,

the earth hot and dry like
Hemingway or Steinbeck;
man and boy toiling through
the fading sunlight.

you wait at the edge, eager,
forward and back again as
i shovel mulch and grunt.
your fingers twitch.

dust rises and you cough,
shielding your face
from the grit and sun;
still, you watch

and finally ask, ‘can I?’
of course, though you can’t,
possibly, lift even the blade.
i pass the handle, and you grin.

i wait at the edge, eager,
forward and back again as
you place your hands and grunt,
frowning but not asking for help.

your hands slide forward, seeking
the physics you don’t understand,
and you do, lift. and more, you
shove and lift again,

over your waist, shoulder, head,
blade full by anyone’s measure,
and tip the chips into (mostly)
the bin.

the blade drops with your hands,
clanging on the hard-packed dirt.
you breathe heavy and sigh.
‘I think I’m too little.’