8.28.2014

Blueprints

I've got seeds in my pocket,
a tape measure in my hands,
and plans rolled up tight on tracing paper
in my backpack—all these for when
I end up where I'm headed, and it comes
the time to build.

In the land that will be mine,
I'll first find where the little creek flows, and
plant the maple with the crooked branch
that leans over the water, for fishing.
Then, the old oak with its plastic red swing
and the big mango tree, for climbing,
and tall hemlocks next to wide-limbed spruces,
for the children to hide beneath and play.

I'm bringing my sister's quiet street
to settle around the house, a long loop
wide enough for four to walk side-by-side,
barefoot on faded asphalt still leaking
the sun's warmth in late afternoon.
I'll make a garden, too, filled up with
vegetables and flowers alike, and
bordered by my mother's old butterfly bushes.
She and I will sit out there in summer,
reading the books she never
found the time to read, and with new eyes
she'll laugh at fine print with me.

Inside the house there will be a special closet,
for memories that only need remembering
once in a while.
My father's father will keep
his wheelchair in this closet, while he plays
Chinese shuttlecock out in the courtyard,
and my friends will leave
their hospital gowns—faded, worn,
smelling faintly of death—
folded neatly on the shadowed shelves.

8.06.2014

By Streams

Years ago, it was warm and raining in the orchard
when we met. Children who didn't yet know what loneliness
meant, we were sown next to the river by the young hands
of our parents, setting us in the earth with love
and prayers. (Back then, none of us understood eternity
but we raced towards it anyway, our tangled

hair flying wild.) We're tall trees now, unfolding, entangling
where our sapling selves least expected to, an orchard
binding itself together in preparation for eternity's
storms of sorrow, of joy, of loneliness,
teetering on the invisible threshold of maturity—and love's
in the twining of our roots underground, our hands

held tight against the coming wind. The weather hands
us these moments every now and then, these exuberant tangles
of teenage happiness and the bold scent of a wide love
following you home on a cold rainy night, when orchards
seem invincible, when we have rejected loneliness
like children still blindfolded against eternity.

Once, ten days of moments turned my hours into eternity,
made solitude suddenly sharp and cold in my hands,
and silence unbearable. Was this true loneliness
at last? The heart's refusal, long after separation, to untangle
itself from phantom branches still twining in the orchard,
the mind's reluctance to pause in anything that it loves,

the soul's aching at absence, having learned so well to love?
Oh, bring me back to the river that wells up from eternity,
and twine my roots into the pattern of my father's orchard
where I am meant to stand forever, while we join hands
and hold each other tight. I think our parents meant to tangle
us together when they set us down, praying we'd never be lonely,

and here we are, the answer. We're a hedge against loneliness,
yours and mine and everyone else whose love
is blooming into breathtaking flowers, all joyfully tangled
through our branches. I must be tasting what sweet eternity
has to offer, more happiness than I can hold, so cup your hands
and drink the overflowing with me: it's raining in the orchard.

Years from now, even the loneliness of a withering orchard
will still know these promises. Held inside our tangled hands
and older than our souls, this love of ours outlives eternity.