Gaps

Gaps and false starts,

dying dreams,

fading hopes.

They tell you it is never too late

but time lays waste to the body

and heaven burdens

the spirit of man

with a choice.

But men have their own minds,

follow their own hearts.

Sometimes good comes out of it,

but mostly nothing remains

save the charred and smoking corpses

of love, hope, and plans.

Shrine

With shades of orange and pink, the rising sun smoothed the jagged edges of the snowcapped moutains, rendering them deceitfully gentle for a time.
Topping his final rise, the bedraggled soldier Olnan saw the shrine in front of him, not too far away now. Taking time to rest, breathing deep of the fresh, chilled air, he took a moment to admire its beauty.
As he admired it, a memory came unbidden, but not unwelcome.
************
His father was holding his hand. He seemed happy enough, but his breathing was labored at this high altitude.
“Are you well, father?”
He smiled at the note of adult concern in his son’s voice. “Yes, Olnan. I’m fine. We’re here now. All is well.”
“Do you want me to go in with you?” He was curious to see the inside of an actual shrine.
“Of course I do. It’s time for you to learn the rituals I perform that honor the ancestors.”
“Like …. ” Olnan took a moment to figure it out. “… your grandfather?”
His father laughed with pride. “Yes, Olnan! Well done! Yes, like my grandfather, but also those who came before him. We owe them a great debt we can’t repay. They went through many things to settle us here, and faced hard times.”
Olnan beamed at the praise.
His father lapsed into silence, but didn’t move. Olnan knew when that happened that he was supposed to wait; Father was remembering something unpleasant. When he spoke again, his voice was husky with emotion.
“But they didn’t give up.”  He looked down at Olnan. “Let’s go, son.”
Still holding Olnan’s hand, they entered the shrine.

*****************

Olnan felt warmed by the memory, and sadness at the empty space beside him now hit him unexpectedly hard. He took another moment to gather himself.
And now, my father has become an ancestor, and I’m not yet a father myself.
He took the offering pack that held the ritual’s needs off his back and held it instead.
It seemed even now that he could see his father there at the door, motioning for him to come inside.
Taking a deep breath, he walked toward the shrine, smiling through his tears.

   One day, my children…

The Burden of Poetry

These words, each one,

holds a piece of me,

pulling apart like fingers in

a warm loaf of bread.

Then other words come

and add their own flavor to it:

some bitter, some sweet

some tart, some tasteless,

but always the words remain.

While I am here to tend them,

they’ll continue to gather me

from every hidden corner

of my mind.

Time to Go

“Are you so eager to leave me?”

“I am eager to leave. Are you so reluctant

to accompany me?”

Between nothing holding me here,

and you with no reason to stay,

we can break the bonds.

But one must

make the sacrifice.

It comes down to trust,

for while love is the fruit,

trust is the seed.

Both reach out, but neither grasps.

Both turn their backs, but neither leaves.

They search each other’s eyes, but neither

smiles sincerely.

The fork in the road is here.

We’ll walk one path together,

or two, alone.

It’s time to go.

Of a Sunday Evening…

A soft spring sunset

filters through park tree leaves.

Travelers fill the roads, heading home

to late dinners and early bedtimes,

prepping to complain about Monday morning.

Time is seized by pets and children,

and the night’s calm settles like a

flannel blanket,

or a hug,

or a shroud.

And just for a while,

the veneer of normalcy

seems authentic.

What Do You See in Me?

“What do you see in me?”

You really care.

“Not just my eyes and my figure and hair?”

All of those things are as fleeting as snow.

“So what do you see in me?”

I think you know.

I see the way that you watch

when you think

I am not looking and having a drink.

I see the way that you smile at my faults,

but not at my failings; my wounds get no salt.

I see the way you receive me at night.

Even in anger, you make it alright.

I see the way that you smile at the sun,

holding my hand as we laugh, walk, and run.

I see the way that you cry in the rain,

holding me tight as you’re sharing your pain.

I see the life in you thriving inside,

happy to have him along for the ride.

I see the way that

your heart beats for me.

What do I see in you?

All there could be.