Some days are given to us bound with bits of string,
their luminous edges wrapped with the memories of things
that flash and fade with a speed that keeps us from seeing
anything as whole or true. But if we let the images drift away
like so many bright winged birds, we discover a tapestry,
silver-edged, a fog we can take to heart and breathe.
Today is such a day --
I walk past sleep, through air blued by sea winds.
The corner house is shuttered and still, its chickens
roosting, the dog asleep beneath an ancient rose
heavy with fragrant bloom. A woman named Sunny
lives there. I’m hollowed by the fragile scent of rain,
jasmine, and concrete. In the school yard garden, lettuce
bolts fast to seed even now in early May, radishes
a wash of pink-white lace. No cucumbers.
It’s far too cold. When I round the corner,
church bells are ringing and a small girl
with both arms wrapped around flowers
as tall as she is tall hurries behind her mother.
Two hummingbirds cross paths.
Later, home at last
I speak with my son and we trade stories, nights
floored by prairie dogs, evenings walled by coyotes
and one unmarked time of a desert crossing, packed
in ice. We might have waited for dark – our headlamps
worked – but drove because somewhere inside the dust
we could smell the sea, feel waves thrust past
shore-bound boulders, hear the tides splitting, taste
the sequined froth of sunset skies.
Crossing the border,
still highways away from the sea, it felt cooler, but 118
is not cool. Such heat damages. The transmission
of our car fried just as decades later the transmission
of our marriage burned up on another beach further
west, farther out to sea, but that conflagration was not
because of excessive heat but rather the lack of it. That
is what I was told anyway.
When I look back, I see
only ribbons, bits and pieces, ice-sharp, wind-free
and tangled up in light, flashing wings of trilling
color stretched between rock and sky, here and there,
then and now, us and you.
we call memory, never true but always real.