The light is fading early today.
Rain turns the whole world to night.
I drive through watery streets,
stretch to bright tapers,
blood beneath my wheels.
fill my busy day.
First, the uncut granite,
sorted and sized,
words neatly arranged,
ready to inscribe
the bare facts of your life,
and then on to the small, white house,
with its big front window and spring garden
hidden behind the black iron gate;
this is where your party will be.
Our guests will arrive soon,
and I must order flowers, great
to dim this too bright room.
Now we’re nearly finished,
but first I must see
to your final ground,
of turned earth,
and then tomorrow you can finally rest.
Attend us gently
as we weep
and slowly walk away.
(10 Dec. 2010)
I search the narrow rooms of memory
through steep, childhood hallways
under high ceilings, past dim, flowered lamps,
when, trembling, I hear echoes calling me
in deep tones of summer thunder
to our willow tree out back
just as the blinding lightning
and shatters the still-living wood.
but compelled by my father’s gentle voice,
to another room
in my mind.
In the kitchen, at the top of the long, painted staircase,
I hear small, shrill squeaks and low, electric hums
coming from your ham radio set,
and walking down, I see you,
hunched in the red glow
of your magic box, calling softly
into your silver microphone,
“W8PNW calling CQ, calling CQ, calling CQ”
O lonely angler, you cast gossamer lines into the eternal, black sea
looking for a catch, any response, any acknowledgement,
but I’m with you! Standing by your shoulders,
I hear the distant human voice respond
“K8QJZ to W8PNW, receiving you loud and clear!”
I feel your joy of connection
as, quickly you fill out your special postcard,
(American Bald Eagles triumphantly unfurling your call letters)
to mail to your Newfoundland friend.
This, too, is contact.
Another soul found, identified, and filed
in your list of ham-buddies, and I grin with you
as you sign off
and resume your patient search.
A voice said, “Cry aloud!”
and I said, “But what shall I cry?”
Shall I sing to the people
a song of spring,
hills aflame with green,
dry grass igniting
In darker days,
when the high meadow fell fallow
and flowers of the valley
dried to dust,
I thought you’d turned
away, took your giving hands
to other lands.
Despairing, I wept,
stung by tears
from angry Hell,
Oh, forgive me, pity your child
and make your enduring rain fall
on the riotous grass,
on the bold crocus
Photo Brian Federle: On the Pacifica Path, 2014
Photo Brian Federle: Mendocino Sundial 2016
falling sun, life swarming
in the liquid light
as I gaze west, through trees,
over houses, over slatted-fence,
towards the waiting, unseen sea.
a foraging bird drops to my mown lawn
(taking note of my still form)
and pecks out her meal…and flies away.
My apple-tree bends towards heaven
new leaves unfolding;
surely it will be leaf-full by Easter!
so I’ll wait for the world to turn
yet another slight degree, for the lines
of golden light to lengthen towards me
and then end in gentle night.
“At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God disposes of our lives, which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind or the brutalities of our own will.” Thomas Merton
Rushing from shower to sink, I heard the TV
And I stopped, all schedules forgotten, transfixed
Calmly, the newsman speculated
This was no accident,then, this morning violence, and I wondered
I wanted to go on with my own day,
I saw a suited businessman,
I heard the shrill, muffled
And I knew in that moment
we all are falling into our dark, quiet center
as our shattered bodies rise
“What is my new desert? The name of it is compassion. There is not wilderness so terrible, so beautiful, so arid, and so fruitful as the wilderness of compassion.” Thomas Merton
I’ll wander with you
in our pain.
Though dry days
and star-drenchd nights
we’ll search the sharp rocks
for pools of cool tears.
Forty days and
forty nights shall we journey
through the wilderness,
to the green oasis
where we’ll flourish — audacious
lilies in hidden springs —
every good thing.
(13 Oct 2012/ revised 7/31/2018)