SLIP SLIDING AWAY

Merriam-Webster declared me an orphan
yesterday morning, when my father
slipped away from his morphine dreams.
Some would argue I cannot be an orphan
at my age, that is a sanctuary reserved
for children, but I am long past
admitting my age, and my behavior
gives no lie to my claim of childhood.
I will continue to miss him, for his dementia
stole him memory by memory over the years,
and I was left to fill the void
with stories of my childhood, remembered
and imagined, to him there was no difference.
I can now fully mourn my birth mother,
gone for years before I found her, and
my birth father, who I can now claim and
at the same time assume dead, more
a commentary on my advancing age
than any reflection on him, save
in the mirror and the faces of my grandchildren.
And now the two men who adopted me
and the woman they really wanted,
and I are no longer part of the same package.

AGING GRACELESSLY

To know the road ahead
ask those coming back.
— Chinese Proverb

I have progressed to the point
that I no longer mark time
in neat segments based on rotation
of this world about that, now I am
measured against those around me, I
seek those with whom I share an age.
It is best to walk at noon, although
the sun is hottest then, for my shadow
draws inward, less exposed, but
it slowly creeps outward as the sun retreats.
I am of an age with the sun, I see myself
reflected in my children, who call
in the night as I have fled
into my sanctuary, away from yapping dogs.
My sons were, just days ago, standing
jaws clenched, before the batting tees,
they would throw down the bat
in disgust after a swing as the ball
toppled slowly to the ground, now one
sits in his cramped office just out of sight
of the river and mulls that moment
of time before there was time, the other
finds structure in the randomness of thought.
I am of an age with that moment
of time before time
I am of an age with that random thought.


First Appeared in Alembic, Winter, 1999-2000.

SANCTUARY

The motion begins deep within you,
bleeds quickly outward
until it blankets the web
between your fingers and toes, collects
behind the ears as you hurtle
on parallel steel threads
connecting Tokyo and Osaka.
You are down to the broad fields
of golden-yellow beckoning
the impending harvest, the rice
swaying in the unfelt breeze.
In the furrow, neatly excised,
the water burns with the gold
of the plants and the blaze orange
of the sun retreating
behind the mountain, tired
after a long day battling winter’s approach.
The stream is a deep, intense blue
out-of-place on this golden canvas,
a wound, flowing to the horizon.
The almost perpetual snow cap
of the great mountain casts
a winking glance at the rice,
a lookout for the moon.
In the fields are small huts,
some lit, in this one two men
kneeling before a small altar.
I want to rise from my seat,
step from the bullet train
and wade through the rice
to join them, share a cup
of carefully brewed tea
and settle in the silence
under the watchful eyes
of the guardian mountain