There comes that one moment for each who lives
when he steps out onto the silent stage,
speaks such of the lines as he recalls, gives
a half-intended bow, and in his rage
curses his lost youth like over-aged wine,
that is now a shadow of its promise
and he knows that somehow this is a sign
not of what he was but what he now is.
In the evening mirror he doesn’t know
the white bearded face that stares back at him,
a far older man who hates the coming of night.
He searches in vain for a way to show
that the spark that once burned did not grow dim
but holds even more tightly to the light.
First published in Grand Little Things ,Vol. 1, No. 1l, July 2020
You ask me what is the first thing
I can remember, and seem surprised
when I tell you memory is much like
a Buddhist river, never the same twice.
Memory is a stage and I am one to forget
my lines, today it’s the window
in the back of a Miami Beach bus
amazed at the sweeping curve
facade of the grandest of hotels,
or the cast iron of the radiator
with its almost rusting pipes, standing
on the small square white tiles, outlined
like the walls in black, the bit of my hair
stuck in the valve knob, a bit of blood
on the floor beneath where the rag
wouldn’t reach when we got back
from the hospital, my toddler head
beneath a bandage, the floor where
my father would fall three months later.
The problem is childhood doesn’t come
with stage directions and my lines
are associated with places and things
and a child cannot read a script
and memories drown and float to the surface
and are carried downstream to a sea
replete with things I have long since forgotten,
like the face of my mother before
they took me to the foster home
and she returned, again barren,
to her own river of a life.