July 8, 2014
I’ve sat on this bank before in the summer.
Melted sunshine drizzling into diamond-flecked rivulets.
Sweat sneaking down my spine.
The water looks the same as it did last year (and the year before that),
Wending its way through a loamy trough cut willy-nilly by a giant’s plow and his dancing horses.
I kneel down at the river’s edge,
The dampness of grass and moss tickling its way through rolled up jeans.
Last year (or was it a year before that or a year before that?),
Two other sets of summer-skinned-and-scarred knees bent on either side of mine,
Pressing into the river’s edge.
We practiced fishing with our hands,
Plunging our palms into the gold rushing by,
Drawing out treasures and whirligigs and smiles.
Now, alone at the water’s edge,
I search for past years’ gems.
Within the sameness that is not at all the same,
I cannot find what I am looking for.
Yet the river runs on.
June 13, 2016
You joined me again at the river’s edge.
This time on a stony shoal jutted out from the river’s bank,
Slowing the water’s rush into soothing shallows.
A time both long and short,
A time both sweet and tart,
A time when we realized how very old and young we were growing—
Both at the same time.
We reclined side by side,
The spring sun toasting our faces,
Our toes cooling in the river’s eddies
That whirled round river rocks and pirouetted past pebbles.
We allowed the world to slide on,
While we contemplated whether it was summer enough to wade in—
Or even plunge into the swimming hole around the bend.
It was a smiling time of living in dreams not relegated to night.
The temperature crept summer-ly so slowly,
I did not notice how long I had closed my eyes
Only to open them and find you poised on the far bank—
Ready to dive into rain-swollen rapids rushing past our pebbled peninsula.
As you slid silently into the sun-glinted river’s run,
Down-streaming toward deltas and the deeps beyond,
I scrambled to join you—just as far as the swimming hole—
I stumbled, a stone knifing through my knee’s skin,
Bleeding tears into the flow that
Wended you invisible round the river’s bend.
I had slept too long in the shallows,
We would not drink of the depths together—
Can we ever this side of Jordan?
And the river runs on.
~~To Be Continued~~
I’ve finally added a new stanza to a poem I began almost two years ago.
I’m busy working on some longer writing projects, so for this week’s blog post, I’m going to share a poem I wrote a number of years ago when I was pondering the idea of living in the present and how our views of past, present, and future shift and change through the years. Enjoy!
The Myopia of Now
When I was a babe, I only had Now.
Feed me, love me, burp me, change me—now!
Past and Future did not exist.
When I was a child, I only had Now.
Play with me, be my friend, let me grow up—now!
Past and Future, a pair of dangerous strangers, lurk on the outskirts of my neighborhood.
“You cry like a baby!” Past fades into the dim hallways of infanthood.
The curl of a finger, the promise of a garden with no childhood restraints. One eye peers round the corner toward Future; a lighter flickers and the piper’s smoke wafts from the darkened boulevard of adulthood.
I only want Future if I can have it now.
When I was a teen, I only had Now.
Notice me, let me go, love me for me—now!
Past. The reclusive uncle who only leaves his hovel to share mildewed child-hood photos. We can only invite a few to commencement. So sorry.
Future. The gambling uncle with a casino created simply for me.
Now the house bows to my youth; I will always win.
When I became an adult, I only had Now.
Give me a paycheck, sell me that house, marry me—now!
Past becomes a list on a résumé. Factual. Useful. A relic of teen and young adulthood.
Disillusioned and debt-ridden, the casino is cashed in for a cubicle and benefits. On stage, Future plays endless blues, but in the wings a musician whistles a lullaby.
What is now will ever be now.
When I became a parent, I only had Now.
Pick up your toys, take your bath, obey me—now!
Childhood memories leap from a womb, three-dimensional and revered in books filled with life scraps. Past takes up residence on the coffee table, requesting, yet not demanding, a place at the dinner table.
Future sets up shop in the basement media center, producing books, movies, and podcasts spouting parental propaganda and platitudes, and producing age-progression photographs on the home computer.
Yet the toys spill and the dishes dirty and the children grow and the bank account needs fed—now.
When my children began to leave, I only had Now.
Let’s take a vacation, snap a picture, talk into the night—now!
Past’s middle-age paunch jiggles with delight after telling an old story for the fifty-third time;
Future, thinning and greying, winds up the hopeful tune of a crib’s mobile once again.
Now is fleeting and suspect—now.
When I became old, I only had Now.
Sign this will, take this medication, attend to your affairs—now!
As Future, wizened and wasted, huddles on the rug by the fire, Past, now truly obese, lies in its bed unable to rise, squinting at re-runs on a giant screen TV, frustrated by emergency announcements that interrupt and come with increasing frequency.
I sigh and pick up the obligatory pair of spectacles sitting on my bedside table and see…
Now is not alone—
Past and Future flank its right and left and always have.
The truth of “I AM” becomes clearer.
Past, Now, and Future converge–a trinity of time.
I sit here, willing words to wend their way onto the page,
Shaking the fall-stripped branches of experience for one bright memory
To press between the pages of gilt-edged books,
But the “so much” that has happened dances away on tendrilled winds.
The “and yet so little” stills my fingers.
What is one more dead leaf in a forest of trees?
My mind’s sap runs slow in these chilly-ing days of fall,
I find much to do and little to say.