poems

One Step Closer

I wonder when my father dies
if all the things he couldn’t say will fly
out of him, if like a butterfly’s wing
in the dark of another continent,
the things he couldn’t face
will mount as a wind a
thousand miles away.

I wonder if his gifts
will leave him, too,
if his ability to build
something out of nothing
will spark another’s confidence.

I know I was born to say what he couldn’t,
to face what he’s turned from.
It’s the way these things work.
An ecology of spirit.

For instance, a friend has a little girl
just ten months old, and I can tell
by her deep attention that she’s
been here before.

I can tell she will say what I cannot
and face what I can’t bear.
She stares at me and I stare back,
our eyes sorting what lives, what
breathes, what gives to air.

She still smells the womb-sea and I,
the rocks of this world. She’s eager
to be here, though her eyes don’t under-
stand the many shades of weight.

But I feel compelled to translate weights
which means I sense the things
that hide in wood and stone,
the things that boil in the pot
of human traffic.

How I make hymns of my father’s pain.
How my friend’s little girl will make
portraits of how I burn.
This is necessary. It’s
how spirit recycles.

We each are born one step closer to God
than those we are born to, for which
we are loved by some and never
forgiven by others.

We each will die with one more thing
to say. We each will wake with
something familiar on our lip
which we must find
and love.

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