I’m on the winter trail
plodding forward with aching feet
blinded by sharp sunlight
on endless snow,
alone with my burden.
The lake offers no relief.
Its frozen water mocks my thirst.
Every part of me longs for spring.
I tell myself the lies of the lonely
Imagining that someone, anyone
might slog along with me,
and ease the thick links
of this heavy chain
from my bent shoulders.
By my own reckoning,
my sorrow is so cumbersome,
you will flee from me,
I hear the cardinals before I see them, loitering in wineberry vines coated white from the evening storm. I wonder if they’re speaking to me, their lilting voices muted by the fresh snow. I count three, moving through my yard like bright fire.
The sky lightens as I push piles of snow from the platform feeder and replenish the seed. When I walk away, the birds come. Their chatter ripples through the trees, a gentle wave.
I’ll name them all before I go inside, letting them know I see them, telling them to take the proffered food.
Dark eyed juncos (my little penguins), house finches, mourning doves, blue jays, one hairy woodpecker and one downy, white-throated sparrows with their sweet, plaintive song, the Carolina wren who loves the suet, a passing flock of red-winged blackbirds (easily startled), black-capped chickadees (small and bold).
Yesterday, a sharp-shinned hawk perched outside my window, its fierce eyes trained on the sparrows. As I watched, it let out a lonely, piercing cry that I’m sure was meant for me.
I only want to watch the birds
as they flock to the feeders,
a wave of feathers and sleek bodies
vying for a spot.
At noon the finches fill up my porch
dropping down like strange leaves
breathing in the cold air,
As winter beats against them,
keeping warm with expanded feathers
shaking the dew from their backs
glowing with the challenge of survival.
The birds are impervious to tragedy
but they must know loss,
On the glittering snow
the mourning doves cluster
to dig for the seed that falls
and their round bodies
melt the surface of my frozen yard.
When I crested that hill,
rounding the bend on Route 32
a known road, a familiar road
The curves and bends were foreign
as I spend towards home
the road became unfamiliar,
my brain waiting for it to click in place
where I was, who I was,
the purpose of my journey.
I found my footing
as I coasted to a stop
at that same traffic light in Rosendale
I’ve been stopping at for a decade.
But the fear lingered like a fine mist,
a cloud of agonizing reality.
We’ve always been four,
like the solid directions;
north, south, east, west,
stable and strong,
and now we’re teetering,
balanced on three legs,
a tripod of grief.
Even the landmarks can’t save me
their familiar shapes are ominous
as I wander among them ,
trying to find my place
without the fourth direction.
I’m so afraid of getting lost
but I’m already lost
there’s no finding my way
until I find you.
Time is as transient as air, as breath
It’s useless to keep tracking it
You may as well have died yesterday
or 100 years from now
I want to believe you’re talking to me
the skeptics are wrong
mediums can channel the dead
I wish I had that gift
I would give anything
to feel you near me
Wanting is the worst thing I can do
I’m floating in a vacuum
resisting the gravity of real life
drifting, not caring about seasons
or passing days
I don’t understand these things
I have more in common with the dead.
The veil lifted and I’m stuck
seeing things for what they really are
seeing myself as dust, a flicker
in an endless arc of light
and I don’t care
I really don’t
My ego evaporated
I don’t want joy
I don’t want to leave a mark
I want to melt away
there’s no relief from my life
oh god, this life
I don’t care
I have no more illusions about today
and the goldfinches,
those bright fingers of yellow
pointing out the joy, the now
They’re not for me.
The candles want to burn
who am I to hold them back?
There is something perfect
about fire, contained
a calming sense of order
as the tiny flame hovers
above liquefied wax
I feel my own sorrow
crackling like brittle wood
at fire, released
If I burn all the candles down,
every single one,
maybe it will release me
from clinging to dust and memories
the truth wants to be known, fulfilled
holding it back won’t stop time,
but it might drive me crazy
it might destroy me
I catch each thought between my palms–
a tiny fairy with damp, burdened wings.
When I dry them off, setting them free,
the deep quiet of my uncluttered mind
frightens me, echoing the stillness of a grave;
bottomless and mute.
It wants me to see it, needs to be seen.
A place of solace beckons me
through the uncomfortable dark
where more tears and pain await.
Oh, but I’m so tired, so very tired
of the impenetrable black.
I only want to close my eyes
and see you.
Are we the things we leave behind?
The faded jeans and coffee mugs,
and dark, silent phones.
Are we our data?
I don’t think so.
All this rational thought
is going nowhere,
and that’s a place I can explore.
Nowhere is the coiling and uncoiling of stars,
expanding and contracting,
like my grief.
Nowhere is the deck of a sinking ship
sliding below the surface of the water.
Nowhere is the space where souls drift.
Is that where you are;
Halfway to me and halfway gone?
I’m looking for a place that is no place
because you’re not here,
but nowhere’s wrong too.
Maybe you’re everywhere?
When I fall from consciousness,
the fading imprint of the day
is waiting behind my eyes
I peer into that space,
hungering for the emptiness,
imagining you, a hair’s breadth away
But I can never find you
though I search until sleep descends
unmooring me with a cascade
of nonlinear thought
a false promise of freedom
from the heavy boundaries of time
as my brain reshuffles,
playing games with space and memory
I know my spirit is widest then
my awareness spread eagle
my arms, gone, yet reaching