I heard a distant strain
Upon a lonely strand
Barely heard over the crash
Of waves and the plaintive cries
Of circling gulls, perhaps not heard
Anywhere but in my memory.
It floated upon the breeze any
Way the wind blew, floating
A vision of a quiet room
Shafts of sunlight falling
Through smudged glass
Little parts of the world
Floating, my mother’s baking
In the air, her back turned.
I cannot see her face across
The space of time, but she hums
To herself, a simple strain
That I can still hear.
We roamed the dark underground
The inky spaces without sun
Forlorn caverns of empty sheet glass,
Expanses of tiled floors, sparsely
Spaced columns reaching towards
Yawning chasms of tiled ceilings
Bustling through benighted halls
Of echoing sounds, not one
Voice to be heard, avoiding
One another’s roving
Eyes, downcast and trodding
Away from nothing
Trudging towards nothing
More than the negation
Of our scattered parts
To the beat of our listless
Hearts, our reflections
Gone without a sound,
A word, a warning, a goodbye
Of sorts with hands shoved in pockets
Sliding from sight, footfalls
Giving their weight to the halls
We all tread for but a forgotten
Moment in our entwined stories.
I’ve run in and out of nights
jumping between shadows and false lights
Hid away from suns, slunk behind walls,
Blinded by piercing shafts of sunlight,
The fuzz of memory, the distortion of slight-
Lidded eyes adjusting too slowly to discern
Your face in the glow of day or haloed
There’s a chasm I used to leap
Too stretched now to make
Or am I just too worn
I reach out my hand, into the bright
And shadow, again and again
Though it always returns
He stood outside the lecture room after
The presentation was over, loitering
There by himself palming his pockets
Pulling things out and putting them back
In showing that he was standing out
There for a purpose alone with no one
Else to actually wait for, but the mere
Indiscernible yearning to prolong
What was for the poet an unremarkable
Reading one among many hundreds
But what was for the young man
An equally unremarkable experience
One he had fallen asleep while only
Half listening to, unrapt by the poems
Regardless wishing anyway to somehow
Make contact with the old poet
To shake the older man’s hand
And somehow make an impression
The poet would never quite be able to shake
From his memory, a little thorn at the back
Of his mind until the day he died
Wondering who that young man had been
And where he was eventually going
Where from there at the intersection of two
Lives each had gone, knowing where
He had traveled, but unsure where that young
Man must now be? Well the young man
Finally gave up on making impressions
Or attempting to find a mentor in the old poet.
Instead he walked home that night
Hobbled at the pace of a staggered heartbeat
Slow stepping towards a horizon lined
With blacked out buildings, set to disappear
Behind the distance like on a worn out horse
Ready to fall over and spear a bullet
Through the beast’s skull and end its black
Eye rolling terror.
Words are such empty vessels
Holding neither water to soothe
Nor bearing the weight of my regret
Yet they are all I have to carry
Past the shadows of my day
Watching as the sun arcs
Cross heaven and under
Unobtainable horizons beyond
Sight and touch and feeling—
Words are such empty vessels
Yet they are all I have to carry
inundando la costa lejana de oro en la sucesión intemporal
o como las hojas que crecen cada año en un árbol
sólo para caer al final de las temporadas en que el mundo es frío.
¿Qué es la existencia, sino un estado transitorio de las olas y las hojas?
Cambiamos las arenas y cubrir la tierra
medida que nos movemos en la arena y están cubiertos por la tierra
cada uno a su vez como pasar las páginas de nuestra vida.
Me pregunto en la inmensidad del mar
y todos los granos de arena aplastado bajo el peso de los océanos.
Todos pasamos la vida tomando el sol
sólo para ser arrastrado contra de nuestra voluntad más allá de lo que sabemos.
Abajo, en las profundidades
más allá de toda luz y sonido
sólo podemos esperar el día
cuando las corrientes nos puede llevar de nuevo a la costa
flooding the far coast of gold in timeless succession
or like the leaves that grow every year in a tree
only to fall at the end of the seasons when the world is cold.
What is existence, but a transient state of waves and leaves?
We change the sands and cover the earth
as we move in the sand and are covered by the earth
each one in turn like passing the pages of our life.
I wonder in the vastness of the sea
and all the grains of sand crushed under the weight of the oceans.
We all spend our lives awash in the sun
only to be dragged against our will beyond what we know.
Down, into the depths,
beyond all light and sound
we can only wait for the day
when the currents can take us back to the coast.
Red blooms swaying once
upon a blue summer day-
gone by autumn’s winds
Mapping the fibrous striations
Of the flesh is like mapping
The striations of roads,
The multi-faceted under-
Pinnings of circling carrion
Eaters over the blacktop,
Grinding to tight tension,
Ready to spring and unwind
As you drive past a dead
Bird on the highway,
Flattened to a clump of feathers,
Strewn over the asphalt except
For a single wing, waving
In the wind as if to say
“I, too, was of flesh-
I, too, surrender.”
I put you to bed the other night and, after I walked out, you wailed and cried, essentially demanding that I come back in there and comfort you. As I sat on the floor in the dark rocking you, I felt, to my shame, a little put out by your neediness, thinking about the work that I still had waiting for me in the other room, of the chores I needed to finish before going to bed myself.
But then, as I held your tiny form against my chest, I became lost in the moment, became aware of its fragility, its ephemerality. How there are only so many moments like this, too few really. How we don’t stop and cherish the things that are passing and so soon passed. How we’re so caught up in life, with its responsibilities and habit and tedium, that we muddle the miraculous with the mundane.
How many fathers throughout time have comforted their child upon a dark night? And, before long at all, how many children have buried those same fathers decades later? I can’t speak to those countless numbers, but here, in our brief now, it’s us. As surely as the cycle of the sun, of the ebb and flow of the tides, we will pass into memory, and even memory will fade. There won’t be so many more moments like this in the grand scheme of things. It will be over and gone in the blink of an eye.
Yet here, now, holding your head to my heart in the dark, we’re timeless. Somehow infinite. Just another father and son on the tides of time, rocked—even as I rock you—upon a fathomless expanse with neither beginning nor end.
While I’m celebrated today for being a father, I celebrate today because I’m your father. I know you’re too young to read this, but I hope over the past three years you’ve felt the sentiment: you’re my sunshine, my unwavering good. I love you, I’m proud of you, and I am so honored and privileged to be your “da.” I’m not perfect. I lose sight of what’s important. I’ve made mistakes (though I know you’re too gracious to keep count), but I hope to always live up to that title and I’m striving every single day to earn it.