Touch

Touch

A chickadee lands in your hand,
its body a buoy

it grips your finger –
you don’t hold it. It holds you.

It is a kiss, both hard & soft,
both lip & bone.

On your way about your life,
at the mailbox, or a stop light,

your body remembers
those feathers. That touch. & others.

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The Way It Is – by William Stafford

There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.

Children’s Ward

boys on one side
girls on the other

we breathed in rhythm
at night to the iron lung

that held the boy on his back
whose face could only be seen

through the mirror above him
brave and afraid

we were soldiers –
our street clothes

missing, our little lives given over
to the alien tongues

of hospital staff
the polished metal

of gurneys and
pitchers of cold water

the windows
so far above our heads

we could only guess
what was outside

and inside
I never walked down to that end,

to the forgotten boy,
in that metal tube

I never looked into,
afraid of that foreign country

and what I might see there
in the mirror.

Democracy

You were a tree that stood beside a grove of trees.
A redbud of branches, wide, full of flower.

Yet, when the sky closed ,
you became solemn, blameful – as if a deer

snapped a branch from you.
It’s worse than we expected

the weakness of men
results in war

so you bore yourself away
behind the bedroom door.

The day closed and darkened.
Disappeared like beauty.

The Offering

I felt like a sidewalk with poems written in chalk
fading, ignored, misunderstood.
You reminded me that there will always
be someone smarter, richer, taller,
that gaze is as much a matter of distraction
as it is choice. It isn’t acknowledgment so much
as the action of holding calcite in your hand, soft,
and offering it. Offering it to the sidewalk.