free verse
February 7, 2011

Salvation

we have known what it is like to be old
we have walked miles in shoes that were too small
we have bent our spines beneath burdens almost too heavy to carry
we have slept on the ground under a blanket that would not cover our feet
we have seen the end recede with our approach

we went on even as sunlight faded and
we let ourselves drift inland (though
we knew we had to follow the sea)

we left behind the sound of waves crashing on jagged rocks for silence and
we have felt the lacking

we have followed paths of sheep we know we will not see
we wonder where our burden has gone
we wonder why our spines have not straightened
we repeat “be not far from me o Lord: thou art my succour, haste thee to help me”
we wander with our empty backs to the shore

free verse
February 3, 2011

Soul

She knows
how all the months smell.
I think she likes May the best
because of the lilies
growing in the flower beds.
November is the worst because
she doesn’t like the wind
and the almost-winterness
and the musty smell of wool clothes
in cold rains and half-snow.
As for the other months,
she likes to say
that their smells depend
on the weather of the year,
and she leaves it at that.

Early in the morning,
when she goes to take a bath
in the bathroom we share,
she leaves her clothes lying
at the foot of our bed,
and sometimes, if I am awake,
and I know she isn’t looking,
I pick up her sweater
to smell the March in it.

Every year in March,
when I am not looking,
she creeps outside at dawn
to watch the crocuses grow
in the new sunlight.
I know this not because she tells me,
but because she leaves her muddy shoes
by the door after breakfast.
And I can only assume
that she collects the smell
of that month,
in her clothes and behind her ears.
She must.
Because this morning,
even when it is August
and the whole world smells like heat,
her sweater smells like
old snow and muddy grass
with crocus petals pushing past
the tired blades.