I remember the first time my lips had spoken your name.
The taste of the air was sickly sweet,
And the sound of my voice startled me.
If you could walk with me, would you?
Your feet are frozen in place
And mine are running fast through footprints left behind by others
With a more erratic gait than mine
Through the trees,
Towards the sea.
I can’t go on further…
My lungs are burning
And I can no longer see
What waits beyond the trees for me,
I see you watching there
-I see you!-
Silently, like a specter.
And the sea, once glorious
Now sits still and gray,
Too cold to dip toes.
Waited for you by the gate
Under the aging sugar maple
Old and wrapped around herself,
With knots from years
Of growth and rebirth.
Waited for you.
Fire in the bowl
Fire in the heart
As the cold night crept in.
Souls can wait forever
But the body is only here
For so long.
The apple blossoms, the lilacs
Demonstrate that beautiful things
Can wilt and the petals drop
Like snow that turns brown
With death and blows away with
The slightest gust;
But if given time and patience
They bloom again with more
Beauty and fragrance than before.
And the bed under blossoms and stars,
The fire in the bowl
The fire in the heart
Still wait beyond the gate
For your return.
Today while I was driving I saw three men sitting by the side of the road, on the green near where the city meets the highway. They had set up an apartment of the shoe-box variety, a cardboard apartment. Signs asking for help and whatever helps, and anything helps; and a green plastic chair with the only occupant being an open can of cold Chef Boyardee, clear plastic fork protruding from the middle, and the black flies had taken notice.
A woman, I think it was a woman, strode over to the men and pulled out a pack of cigarettes from her backpack. Her baseball cap covered her face to her nose. They don’t care. It’s social hour. Morning coffee. They loudly exclaimed and took them, all lighting them in a procession. A procession towards lung cancer and further grief. A procession down the side of the road as the cars line up, waiting for a window to open and throw something out. Throwing a bone. Patronizing. Anything Helps. Any Little Bit Counts. You can feel good today.
You always hear stories about refused sandwiches and refused plates of take out meatloaf and I don’t believe them. You always hear stories about jeers and aggression, but I’ve never seen it. Sometimes a person wants to eat. Sometimes a person wants to eat more than once, and the sight of a meal, or even just a measly cigarette will make everyone else think: oh, he has enough.
Every little bit counts. Right now, someone is starving. A person like you is starving; and the black flies are doing just fine.
The lights were out in the city.
You came to me, like a dream,
In through the darkness.
Here we sat in stillness and silence.
My lanterns burned, pulsing,
Like my heart.
I remembered when we walked through the woods
And you kissed my collarbone in the sun.
It was only October.
I wondered how I could make it through the winter’s grip
With such a desire to kiss your face
In the green grass?
How would I kiss you only in the cold,
No longer in a hammock under a blossoming tree?
There are times where I worry about your beautiful mind
And the ties that bind you,
Though you are a miracle.
In the darkness I could feel your fears
As If they were my own.
As If I were born with them.
How I wished I could ease them.
-And I still do.
One of these days, I always said.
And one of these days I will.
I have been trying to identify you by color and song.
The unidentifiable, the inconsistent. Covert.
I’ll be flipping pages.
The same way I do when I hear a particular bird call,
For the first time each spring.
What was that?
Chickadee? Oriole? Warbler? Sparrow?
I cant remember.
My memory can be jogged by a
Hi Sweetie! Hi Sweetie!
A flash of bright red or
Black and white peeking from between the leaves.
For you, no research to refer to.
There is no guide to confront or organize.
And if there was… how many editions would there be?
I can’t remember.
Does It matter?
This time when I spy
You, you are gray and mottled. Dulled,
When once you were exuberant and bright.
You sing in cascades about your exuberance
I still see only dullness, but I can possibly be convinced.
Perhaps you are my mockingbird,
And you have picked up the identities
Of every other bird you meet.
You will string together a variety of calls
That belong to someone else,
And when I inquire, tell me that no sound was ever made
in the first place.
© 2020 s. marie martin