warm currents swirl around you
sudden shifts of cold stiffen skin
over and again you are pinned against the reefs
fear rising like fingers of coral.

you were not made for this place.

you have met the eyes of sailors trapped in sunken ships
stayed beside them until stillness replaced grief
offered what comfort you could
your tears murky brine.

no wooden hull holds you
no anchor to this sandy floor
yet you are tethered
left to wonder what   or who
might still your grief
release you from this dark surrender

shafts of light pierce water’s surface
as if to pull you to the blue above
an ancient call beseeches
dream           grow wings            rise

• • • •

This poem was published alongside Four Gospels of the Natural World (sculpture) by Brad Burkhart on his Poetry Book Project.

for onan

o sweet boy
we found you between
the darkness and the dawn,
unsure about going on
longing for something we no longer know
(for we left that place long ago
and remember it not)

how much fear can one moment hold?
a life dissolved or brought fully here with
one breath, one tear.

your tiny fingers reach for tether
in this airy world, you seek touch
to ground you,
arms to surround you,
the sound of another’s heart close again.

we gratefully oblige, remembering being held by

now we hold you
and whisper in your ear:

• • • •

Published in New Millennium Writings, Summer 2000 Special Issue
Public Art: Bainbridge Arts & Humanities Council, Poetry Corners, 2004
Photo of public art poem “for onan”

the dancer

you’ve entered my life with the ease of a dancer
gliding your way across this set
a breeze creates soft rustle of night leaves
through my heart a song whispers your name

your movements    leaps     lunges    dance of the lover   
rhythmic chant of body and earth
a tribute to two moving together
making their own breezes through the air

lie quiet, love    you have brought me your gift
i will hum my song
through my dreams beside you i know your own heart
speaking softly its night dance with my own

you go to your weekly    life     calls us all
what remains with me is a kind of silence   
a kind silence resounding in joy   
it’s as deep as the sea 
as wise as canyons
as old as mountains standing silent   majestic   knowing

i surrender myself to the knowledge of mountains
(they have survived so much more than i) 
and look up to see against the brilliant sunrise 
a lone dancer paying tribute to this world

• • • •

Published in Between Sheets, #9,
California State University Stanislaus, 1978
Photo by Marek Piwnicki on Unsplash