Memorial

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Summer

 
He worked nights, leaving as we climbed
the tall narrow staircase to our shared room,
up into the summer heat, the steel fan
in the hallway window
pulling cool, leafy breezes
from our waving trees.

We heard the kitchen screen-door
slap shut, the Pontiac roaring to life,
and watched as slowly he backed down
the dark driveway, and was gone.

And gladly we glided through misty dreams,
flying over tree-tops, baseball games
and cool swimming pools,

when finally the robin’s enthusiasm
and the fresh morning sun
flashing through green leaves
woke us as we heard the car stop
and Dad call cheerfully, “I’m home!”

The air already scented with bacon and coffee,
we flew down the groaning stairs,
two steps at a bound,
and eagerly started another golden
summer’s day.

 

Winter

 
One winter day I did something wrong, and
he got angry and drew his worn leather belt
From the loops of his grey, stained work trousers
To teach me a lesson.
Terrified, I ran upstairs to the big closet
and trembled behind coats and sweaters,
as heavily he came up the steps,
righteous anger ringing in his voice,
tears flowing down my cheeks;

when my big brother, teenage and strong,
called defiance to him and drew him down
into the back yard to fight him
and save me, angered by his

memory of so many other beatings,

determined to stop it now!

But facing his own father

he could not fight back, and

weeping, I watched my dad
pummel my brother’s defenseless face,
far worse than any beating
I would have gotten.

From kitchen window,
I screamed to them both
to stop!

That was when my father saw,
in the kitchen window’s glare
his own father’s angry eyes,
and felt his father’s fists

landing hard on his own face,
and he stopped and

embraced my brother.
 

 

Spring  
Seven years after my father died
my first child, my son, was born in spring,
and in the gleaming, sterile room
I first held him in my arms
as, with his impossibly wide, blue eyes
he calmy gazed right into my raw soul,
and I felt in a sudden rush of warmth,
a timeless love
and at last discovered
the reason for my life.

It was then
I understood my father.

In my son’s face I saw my own
and felt my father’s eyes gazing
in warm wonder on me
and I glowed with
unconditional love for my son.

(30 Jan 2011/11-2017)

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Out of the Silence

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“Out of the silence, Light is spoken.” Thomas Merton

I walk
into the morning.

Birds
drowse
in the dark,

an unseen breeze
strokes my
arms, my bare neck,

as two cranes
over the edge
of the meadow
rise

as the Holy Spirit
moans
in tones
of morning light.

Night Falls

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Photo: Brian Federle, “Open Gate” Pacific, 2012

 

Night falls

slowly in spring
through trees newly flush
with unfurling leaves.

Birds rush

through swaying limbs
to newly-built nests,
to lives yet to live

as day fades
to shimmering silk,
as stars gleam with

celestial milk.

Evening Prayer

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Wind stirs in expectation; it
softly strokes my face.

The March sun reassures me,
warms pale flesh
through layers of thick sweater
and winter coat.

Under indigo hills
new grass flows,
yellow and green,

as past distant ranges,
to the sky-bright, rounded sea
he flees and sends us
a gift of clouds,
aflame
in glory.

Peace be with the grass of the fields!
Peace
to dark hills and drifting clouds,
and to the sacrificial sun
peace!

Suisun Spring

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Photo: Brian Federle, “Camping” 3-25-2008

 

the green glow
of our cottonwoods
newly clothed in the gentle April sun ….

our apple tree,
still skeletal,
intimating cotton buds
promising green glory to come,

and the grass!
all winter-yellow evaporated,
shouting like a
third-grade leprechaun
skipping across the playground
in the school’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

but most unforeseen,
along the rough fence
the vinca
blazing with royal light
in the deep, verdant shade
of our cottonwoods.

(12 April 2010)

At Caritas

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I gaze
through the undergrowth
into deeper woods.

Redwoods rise,
limbs link tree
to brother tree,
climbing high
to the bright
coastal fog.

Walking out
I see the three,
still as lawn ornaments,
frozen in motion,
stunned
by my sudden form.

They stand and gaze
and reassured
by my stasis,

at last with lazy gait
back they move
into the nodding
trees.

(3 May 2016)

Winter Tree

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The winter tree
does not move.

Its wide trunk
plunges into graven earth,
unseen roots, grasping hands
feel deeply the living soil,
hold firm anchorage
against the coming storm,

but rising wood, thin
though strong enough
to paint slender lines,
trails into purer air,
gives shelter
to Christmas birds.

They hunch on stems, quietly
waiting to sing open
the dawn.

(12/23/2011)