Sunday, May 30, 2010

Two for Dan

Yesterday was my friend Dan's memorial service, an afternoon of many stories, songs, and tears. A big gathering, with comfort and sorrow, with music and more stories into the night.

Here are two poems that I wrote during the couple of weeks.

Our Hard Watch

In my sorrow I plant beans.
Scarlet runners fall from the packet
marbled red and night, a handful of magic.

We hoped for a miracle, red cells blooming
through arteries, day after day waking
to a new wonder. Through the long

treatments, chemo rounds like a boxing match
pummeled you—and you still standing at each bell.
You learned a hook or two.

Wood sorrel clouds the ground.
The dock sends stalks skyward,
feathery flags waving.

I smooth the dirt over.
Teases of rain spit from the sky.
The crows may uncloak their mysteries.

This is better than waiting
where my words fall, fail
like old seeds in a field of stones.

Dusk grows in the garden.
Everything hovers—breath, hands.
Time balances like a boy on one foot.

To keep a vigil from the far side
of the water. To keep the fury out
when it wants to surge in as hard as the sea.

You move through a larger circle,
but it feels like an eddy,
a swirl, a suck out of time.

We must hold you,
love you, let you return.

We miss you before you go.


Walk With Us

Evening grows in the garden.
Walk with us in this hush
of light falling.

We must send you off into the lilac dusk,
into the darkening cedars and firs,
but you can walk with us.

Bang on the pots and pans.
Bring your guitar.
Walk with us.

Emptiness reaches up to the sky,
too early for stars.
We could be better at letting go.

You must move on and yet a part of you
lives in a cup under our ribs,
in the night's quiet valleys.

You are a clear note through the distance.
You are a ray through the world,
a sunlight we touch, and our hearts

are pierced by it, and we open
our hands to find maps we didn't know
we held, our possible hours etched

on our palms. Walk with us
through this shivering, into the garden
where birth sprawls green.

Walk with us.
Help us to live the rest of this life.


Peter said...

Sorry to hear about your loss. Lovely poems.

Joannie said...

Thank you, Peter.

leslic said...

I love these poems, Joannie; what a beautiful tribute to your friend.

Bonnie G said...

Oh Joannie, I had no idea. I'm so sorry. These are truly wonderful. A gift for those left behind.