Meteorites and shooting stars
that's thirteen year old boys who have died
and are throwing rocks now through the universe.Charlie's Parents
"Look, there she is," they whisper behind their hands.
"Her son died last October."
They watch as she smells oranges, s
elects crisp red apples,
steals a grape,
green and fleshy
and pops it into her mouth, juice squirting.
"How can she go on?" they ask each other.
They shake their heads, sigh and move along
with their shopping carts to the bakery section.
She goes on.
when she wakes
opens her eyes
remembers her son is dead
and she is not.
She goes on.
Her husband doesn't bathe
nor comb his hair.
He sits. Stares at the television.
He has yet to realize:
he did not die too.Charlie's Sister
She is cool, ordered, in control.
She used to punch him in the arm.
She is visiting colleges at spring break.
MVPs, Honor Roll report cards.
She is tall, strong-limbed, sharp-minded.
She used to help him with his algebra.
She is meeting with a recruiter.
Talking scholarships. GPAs. Volunteer opportunities.
Her life is opening wider.
She used to shoot hoops with him.
She hasn't missed a step.
There is a pinch at the back of her eyes.
She is an "only" now.
She is softer to the boys who come around,
her brother's friends
needing this big sister who
needs a little brother
but doesn't have one anymore.Fall Back, Spring Ahead
We set the clocks back the day he died.
It made no difference, that one hour.
We needed more than that.
Set the clocks back.
All the way.
Set them back to the days
he tracked mud across his
mother's kitchen floor.
To the day the next-door neighbor called -
he was walking along the narrow top of their back fence
Set the clocks back to the day he first snuck into the golf course
nestled up against his back fence.
His diapered butt squeezing under the pickets,
his mother running around the block
to the front gate of the course
because her jeaned butt couldn't fit under the fence.
Set the clocks back
so we can hear his young boy's voice again,
calling across the green grass.
See his muscled left leg swing back, then release -
Sending that soccer ball far across the field.
It's April now and we must set the clocks forward.
There is no going back.
So set the clocks ahead,
but one hour will make no difference.
We need more than that.
Set the clocks ahead,
past her first Mother's Day with a dead son.
Set the clocks ahead,
when all his friends will march across the auditorium stage
and collect their middle school diplomas.
Set the clocks far ahead,
to the day his best friend becomes a father
and names his newborn son for a friend
who died twelve years past
but remains a young boy.
Never to grow up or old.
Set the clocks far ahead.
Days. Months. Years.
Set the clocks ahead to the day his mother's heart
Set the clocks ahead a lifetime.
We still need more time than that.Walking
We are walking the time away.
It is better than lying down
and giving up.
When we started the tree limbs were almost bare,
a few ragged leaves clinging to the branches.
Determined to hang on in the face of October's cruel winds.
But those leaves fell too
when November hit.
Darker and drearier than ever
There was turkey, cranberry sauce, sweet yams,
wine and walnuts.
But there was no thanks giving.
Christmas brought twinkling white lights on
house after house.
As though the whole town
was determined to light our path.
Carolers sang. Tinsel glittered.
But there was no rejoicing.
Then the trees grew green again and blossomed.
Yellow acacia dust covered cars and patio furniture.
Blue periwinkle trailed along the walking path.
Soft rain and colored eggs.
But there was no resurrection.
Days grew longer. The sun beat down.
We traded long pants for shorts.
Beads of sweat formed on the backs of our necks,
on our brows,
and still we walked.
Past backyard gardens thick
with corn, tomatoes, sunflowers.
Past children in the streets
on bikes, rollerblades, skateboards.
The smell of barbeque and the taste of cold beer
brought no respite, but occupied the time.
Now it is autumn. The leaves are falling again,
crunching under the soles of new shoes.
The days grow shorter and the air has a faint chill to it.
We have harvested time, tears, words and
we are still walking.
Walking grief. Walking sadness.
Walking strength.Side By Side
You notice orange poppies reaching above
green grass on the side of the road.
A splash of color sharp with life, frozen on your retina.
You notice clouds
monumental layers textured with grey shadings and
wisps that trail off and streak across the bluest sky.
painting the heavens, etching shadows on your cornea.
You move through the world, every fiber of your being registering
color, sound, scent. The smell of rain on white pavement,
the crack of a bat, clean and sure against the ball,
the iridescent green covering the hillsides.
Alongside this irrepressible movement of
color, sight, and smell
exists a sharp ache in your center,
a catch in your throat.
Beauty and grief live side by side.
© Birdstory Publications 2005
Being away from you,
I have become used to these tears.
I am a candle, melting with grief,
A heart alive
by the sound of its own weeping.