The gravestones, in random shapes line the hill the morning chill creeps between them and onto the runway until washed away by the spring sun slowly pushing upward as the jet noise washes the hill unheard
He passed away quietly in his bed ending his dread of the cancer slowly engulfing him his vision dimmed by the morphine that pulsed through his veins. He paused to remember the first spring rains.
She selected the plot on the hillside she would confide to friends, so that he might see the valley at long last free, to see the flowers bloom in early spring, the land that was his home and he its king.
One summer the caskets were carried out while the devout cursed the sacrilege of the master plan of the madman who decided that the airport must sit on the hill, his valley forever split.
The jets rush over the cemetery February snows blown across the gravestones in their wake as one snowflake melts slowly on the ground, a falling tear which, unheard, marks another passing year.
First Appeared in Candelabrum Poetry Magazine (UK), April 2002.
Outside the door nestled in the tall grass white, a plume gossamer, a gift perhaps from a sky finally blue or a tear for the summer’s departure, or, perhaps, a promise, down payment on the freedom from gravity long sought never attained.
We sat at the table, sucking the last of the djej from the bones piled along the edge of the platter. “I played for seven years” he said, “under Tilson-Thomas and later Rudel, bad years those, I sat two rows back second from the stage edge.”
He was unremarkable, forgettable until he nestled the violin under his chin. Balding even then the fringe of hair clownish, lacking only a red nose. At the old metal desk he struggled over applications for insurance policies, forever asking if he had the premiums calculated right, stumbling over the pitch, dreading the word death, preferring to talk of his bow dancing across the strings. He sold just enough policies to make his monthly draw and generate an override commission to help pay our mortgage but he would, my father said, never make much of a career in insurance. When I sat in the office on the old leather sofa he asked me to marvel that an old man, bitter and stone deaf, could hear so clearly, alone in a small room. I listened politely, waiting until he might be distracted and I could return to neatly arranging the pink sheet between the whites feeding it carefully through the rollers, and slowly peeling it back to reveal the dark sepia copy.
He sits on the metal bed fingers bent into talons and cringes at the screech of the walker dragging along the hall. He wrestles with the radio knob and hears the strains of the concerto as a tear runs down his cheek and he waits for the nurse to change his incontinence pad.
First Appeared in Licking River Review, Issue 28, Winter-Spring 1996-1997.
You say you appreciate occasional gifts of symbols of love. You expect me to bring you a rose it’s satin petals gently curling back at the edges, always threatening to suddenly unfold, alluring, drawing in the eye promising warmth and release. I bring you an onion, wrapped tightly, it’s papered skin, the luminescence threatening to break out but always just one more layer down. I help you peel back a layer, it comes off reluctantly, as if letting go of this secret could be painful or exposing. We, both of us, shed tears and I wipe yours with the edge of my thumb, you watch mine roll down my cheek and hang perilously on the edge of my jaw. I bring you an onion and peel it slowly, I lift the bit to your lips. It is sweeter than you anticipated but still it has a fierceness that borders on passion, and it will cling to your lips long after this moment has faded into memory.