the dawn breeze rises cool and soft
up from the golden ripples
of the Little North Santiam River.
past the sword ferns
just ripening in late July.
through the fierce Himalayan blackberries
who need a trim.
over the cedar deck where we ate
grilled wild salmon and coleslaw
with our kids last night,
soaked in the softness
of our relaxed vacation bodies.
that silky air slides into our bedroom,
fills the space with the vigor
of a thousand spawning salmon.
our legs tightly entwined.
skin moist with sweat
these bodies fit together
now with their
proud flesh testifying
to grief and mileage.
teaching us our glorious human limits.
wisdom offered only through
life’s sharp blows and tears.
you open to me.
generous as always.
take me as I am.
with my vulnerable and volatile parts,
you welcome and entertain them all
as honored guests,
we sink into the embrace.
merged for the moment.
the lists and logistics and decisions
and there is only us.
marriage doesn't have to **** romance
your death and therefore mine
are real in pictures from
a patchy pale skull is not really
and I miss the eyebrows more
in the remembering.
your arms are filled with our
fleshy radiant potential
such stark contrast in rearview.
I kept out your pain
with a wall
of new dad
and charming dutiful service
that looked so good
to the rest of the world.
you were alone.
you were so alone.
the name for *******
but with the accent
it leaves the lips
and it sounds as sweet
Some pieces of you
Follow me around all day
Can’t be the first time
Although sharply cast
And perhaps tightly knitted
You might let me in
Womb-like, but this nook
Lacks a sweet ingredient
The slide of your thigh
There you go again, digging around
in the fly-covered entrails, looking
for the undigested piece of gristle
your mother forgot to cut off your steak
when you were 6. All the while
the untanned hide sits rotting in the sun.
There are a few bare patches.
Scars from a recent rut?
Two holes where the arrows entered
the flank and lodged in the lungs.
Its takes forever to work
the skin soft with the brains.
Fingers raw, arms tired,
and Christ…the smell!
But it might keep you warm
in the lodge this winter.
Walking the ruts on the Historic
Santiam Wagon Trail, I split
the stories of sky scraping
Douglas firs. Alders and vine maple shed
their leafy weight of early Fall.
The brown state attraction sign boasts
a sincere Conestoga. A sturdy team
in a purposeful westward arch. What
benign heroic ambition. Divine inevitability.
I wonder how the sign sits in the eyes
of a Kalapooya walking these woods. Or
a Nez Perce or Siletz?
Like a ******* in Tel Aviv? A machete
But the Siletz don’t have an air force
or UN peace keeping troops.
— The End —