When birds leave first
You don’t know.
Here is the ordinary paradise. What
you expect of checkers, the moves you mark,
blessed ordinary choices made.
What color socks, scanning the landscape
and what will please your tongue, maybe
that box of cereal, a bowl, some milk.
These shoes seem to fit your life. You
pull tight the laces, big loop goes around
and the sky paints thoughts blue.
Then. There’s always a then.
What’s that sound at the back of a perfect
thought. Yours alone? Read their eyes.
Other faces begin to say, doubt has a name.
Arriving like a wave, recognition has found
your face. We run like wind would do.
Towards or away from, some burning
need, a dull aching breath, inside this fog.
We hold tight whatever tree seems strong.
Then scattered clothes, holes in snow,
what memories are. Translucent grace.
Smoke become faint, laying on the ground.
Faces that seemed far, now inside a single
gasp, a breath that doesn’t stop. Elusive
now, turned to rain gone down the slope.
You don’t know how to plan, anything, anymore.
The day is blue the sky is clear, a child is gone,
a wife, a mother, a marriage torn,
the face who brought you water in a glass
fallen now back beneath the sand. Some
stranger wraps a cloak around your snow.
This is how paradise is. This is how life
takes a breath and another and another.
This is how you live. How you go on.
You gather what scarred hands can find.
I don’t take care of my fears anymore.
neil reid © december 2012
This poem is written in support of the open prompt at We Write Poems, Writing for Healing and Peace (in series as presented).
Both that prompt and this poem here are offered and meant in a more general sense. While the initial spark was from that elementary school shooting in Connecticut, there are more than enough other incidents. In a manner I take that event as a sort of natural disaster (albeit by our own hands), and however harm comes, the sense is much the same, what seems lost in aftermath.
So here this poem, the images, the movement are annealed of several such experiences. Some of the phrasing is directly as shared by one of the survivors from the great south Asian sea tsunami a few years back.
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