New Moon in Spring

sun goes down, no moon
darkness crosses young grasses
protects baby birds

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Spring

plants bud and blossom
rain and mud replacing snow
as the sun comes out

dad’s old red backpack
hangs expectant on doorknob
awaiting a hike

Sun and Rain

I woke up feeling
Like a piece of glass
While the sun casts blinding rays
Through the middle of my soul

I woke up feeling
Like a piece of glass
Ground down into tiny shards
That dazzle the eyes unpredictably
In the glaring sun

I woke up
With an awful taste in my mouth

I woke up
With clothes like sandpaper on my skin

I woke up most of all
Knowing something was gone
That I couldn’t replace
That I couldn’t even remember

When I was a child
I thought myself a monster
When I couldn’t cry
When I should have been crying

I used to lick my hands
Spread the spit over my face
And make sobbing noises
Then feel even more a monster
Because they were only fake tears

I’d feel so exposed
Just the way I do now
Like the piece of ground-up glass
In the sun

Even though I’m alone
And no one can see me
I feel transparent
I feel overrun

Sometimes when people cry
They say “It’s raining on my face”

I think it’s raining 
Deep down in my soul
Where nobody can see
And there’s no path
From the rain 
To my eyes

Redwoods

A tiny seed of redwood sorrel, slumbering in its soil nest
Stones in its lowest spots say to grow upward
Silent hope for something sorrel can’t explain
Stirrings that see it slip from the soil, seeking sun
Sun on the leaves sweet sugar within
Sorrel is social, surrounded by sorrel-friends
Redwood sorrel seeks solely to live in the light
Supported by soil, the sun in the sky shining down

[Writing prompt – redwoods – provided by binghsien.]

Love, Rainbow Heart, Eyes

I never thought I could look so long
Into someone else’s eyes
But one day we climbed into a tree
And it felt like love and photosynthesis
The sun shining down on our leaves
Sending its love from afar
Creating rainbows in our watery hearts

And I looked into your deep brown eyes
As you looked into my green-brown eyes
It was as if the earth was centered around our tree
And even when we closed our eyes
It seemed we could still see

But staring into your eyes, without a hint of threat
Was perhaps the most amazing of all that happened yet
I didn’t feel I needed to run and hide
I just wanted you to see who I was inside
And I wanted to see you just the same
We were so different yet always we came back to this

Back to looking into each other’s eyes
Back to holding hands
(The world, of course, revolved around our hands)
Back to lying on top of each other
Making deep low-pitched noises to vibrate
Underneath the other person’s skin
A way of getting in

I remember being told the amazing part about sex
Was being able to be inside another person
Or have someone inside of you
That this kind of connection was beautiful beyond words

I was disappointed when I found out
These things would never be for me
Those body parts are too painful for me
To allow anyone in

But there’s in and there is in
There are ways underneath the skin
You can use sound waves to penetrate
A whole abdomen at once

When people ask if I’m a virgin
I never know what to say
If it’s tab-A and slot-B then sure
I’ve never had sex that way

But how can you call it anything but sex
When you press your bodies tight
And experiment with different sounds
To make the other person feel them inside

We repeated each other’s names
Like a mantra, like a gentle chant
And the world fell away
And we found ourselves
In a place made just for us

It looked like an intricate geometric lattice
Made of delicate shimmering silver
And where the pieces of the lattice met up
There were glowing jewels of every color
And the love in that place
Eclipsed our identities

No longer did we feel our bodies
No longer did we hear each other saying our names
All we could perceive, in fact
Was the rainbow lattice inside our hearts
Because that’s what this place really was
It was the place where two hearts touched

Everyone has these pathways somewhere
Sometimes they’re harder to find
People tend to assume
That the only way to express their sexuality
Is through erogenous zones and groins

But for every single person
There are many different routes
To the love and communion we found
Some are lazy day hikes down the road
Some are backpacking treks lasting several days
Some require mountain-climbing gear
But if both of you want this
And both of you look hard
You’re bound to find a different trail
To get there every day

Our hearts beat out the same rhythm
We could feel it through our shirts
And we went outside to watch the ocean
And the rainbows in our hearts
Were mirrored in the clouds
And the soap bubbles blown
By children on the beach

And sitting together on a rock near the shore
We looked into each other’s eyes
And soon we were lost in each other again
Rainbows in our hearts
Starlight on our hands
Magic in our eyes

[This is another poem where someone else provided the title, and I had to write the poem.  The story is, more or less, true, with a few poetic embellishments.]

We Fear The Coming of Winter

My father has terminal cancer
My mother has myasthenia and neuropathy
And a list of conditions so long
It would fill a whole page

They live in the backwoods of the mountains
Where there are no home care programs
And my mother takes care of him
As well as herself

She does this because she loves him
She does this because there’s no other choice
She does this because they’ve been together
Over fifty years now and are still in love

She drives with one hand at a time, sometimes
Because the other one has given out
Then she switches hands, hoping by then
The other has the strength to tough it out

Her eyes close so tight they’re like slits
She holds them open with her hands
By pulling up on her forehead
Or putting her fingers on her eyelids

Sometimes she needs oxygen
Sometimes she’s landed in the ICU
One time she stopped breathing
And they had to call a code blue

And every morning I wake up
And I wonder if she’s still alive
Every morning I reach out with my mind
And try to see what I can find

Because sometimes she feels like a cloud
That could dissipate in the morning breeze
And sometimes she feels like a film of ice
That could crack into pieces on top of a creek

And sometimes she feels like a tiny star
Too far away to see
And I wonder if she’ll get the chance
To say goodbye to me

Does she know that we all know
The sacrifice that she is making?
Does she know that we all fear
That taking care of dad will kill her?

Does she know that sometimes she looks
Like a shadow dissipating in the noontime sun?
Does she know that sometimes she looks
Like a story ending before it’s begun?

And she’s always been stronger than strong
When I was young she worked two or three jobs
Just to give us kids more opportunities
Coming home too late to see her drive in

She’s doing the same thing now
Taking care of my dad, herself, and the house
That’s three jobs at a time, still
It’s still that sacrifice

But I am so scared she will melt with the snow
I am so scared she will crack like a frozen branch
I am scared this time she won’t have the strength
In those huge reserves she’s so often tapped

She has love and grit and determination
But can those things be enough
When you can’t even open your eyes
Without using your fingers?

The winter is coming and that’s what we all fear
The winter is coming and will she disappear?
The winter is coming and what can we do?
The winter is coming and I love you

I love you more than the frost loves the ground
I love you more than the ice loves the branch
I love you more than the snow loves to whirl
I love you more than blizzards could ever destroy

Love may not save you but love will hold you up
Love may not keep you alive forever
But it will keep something of us all alive
But, love or not, the winter scares us all

But, then, winter or not, we have love
And winter or not, we have strength
And winter or not we have a bond so close
It’s impossible to break

We all fear this coming winter
But we all love our mom
And maybe that love will be enough
Maybe something will be enough

Mom, I hope you know we love you
That every single one of us
Knows the things you do
To make Dad’s last days as good as they can

We know what you are sacrificing
We know what you are risking
We know how scared you are of the winter
We love you every day

I love you more than I could ever say
I want you to survive my father’s death
I want to be able to see you every day
I love you more than I could say

I love you
I love you more
Than I could say

Words Are Just A Carrier Wave

All you have to do is think of me
And all my love is there
All you have to do is look at my face
And all the unspoken things
I want to tell you before you die
Pour out of me and into your mind

All I have to do is think of you
And I see so much of you I’ve never seen before
All I have to do is look at your face
And all the things you can’t remember
All the things your brain won’t let you say
Are written there as if in ink

Everything we are is written on each other
Everything we need to know is there
There’s nothing more we have to say, in a way
Because everything is written on our souls

I can see you right now
Three thousand miles away
I see the light that shines inside you
I see the love that holds your body together
Even as it’s failing

That love will hold us up as you die
That love won’t disappear
No matter how bad it gets
That love is turning you into light
Even now I can see it
Turning you into light
Three thousand miles away
The love you have taken on
Is slowly turning you into light

You told me not to grieve too hard
Which is a tall order
When losing a father for the first time
But when I close my eyes to look at you
Every day I see the light shine through
Even more than it had before then
Even more than it had before

You’re becoming translucent
Your skin is just a place
For the light to shine through
For the love that has carried us this far
To shine through you and around you
I see it more every day
And there’s not a lot I can say
Because it’s already been said
And we can read it
In the love
On our bodies

“Words are just a carrier wave”
That’s what my friend Anne would say
When faced with situations like this one
But I have some memories
I want to share before you go
And maybe words will serve their purpose

I remember sitting with you
And listening for owls in the redwoods
On our back porch

I remember granite mountainsides
Heated so much by the sun
That you could smell the rock itself

I remember picking up and counting
Every salamander
On a hike from the skyline to the sea

I remember hollow logs so big that
Even adults could stand inside them
And marvel at the fungal growth

I remember picking wild blueberries
While you made pancakes out of them
Then let me ride on your shoulders

I remember playing with your beard
When I was too young to understand
Just about anything

I remember catching more fish
Than any of the rest of you
Because I liked the repetition

I remember feeling proud
When you taught me how to gut a fish
Like I learned something truly useful

I remember the glee I felt
Sorting your tangled pile of resistors
Thinking it was a game, not a chore

I remember the fresh smell of your sweat
After you came inside
From splitting wood

I remember how proud I felt
When you taught me to split wood
All by myself

I remember when I talked like you
You’d smile and call me
“My lil’ Suthun gal”

(Whenever I could be like you
My heart would burst with pride)

I remember when you took me on creek walks
With our shoes and pants on
And the water splashing us all around

I remember when you showed me
An entire wall full of electronics
And then told me, “I made this.”

I remember going to work with you
Getting to meet all the other technicians
Was better than meeting the famous physicists

I remember always stopping during a hike
At one particular spring
To make lemonade

I remember all your sayings like
“Bear food runs from bears” and
“I’m just as fine as frog fur.”

Thank you
For getting so depressed when you were drafted
That you ate too much and accidentally got too fat for the Service
(Or I might not exist.)

Thank you
For not using protection
In the woods in Henry Coe
(Or I wouldn’t exist.)

Thank you
For getting out of that snowstorm
When you hallucinated me saying I needed you
(I did. I do still. I will always.)

Thank you
For living in Redwood Terrace
When I was born
(Or I’d be a completely different person)

Thank you
For letting me hit you in the back
So I wouldn’t hit the ER nurse who had his hand up my butt
(That’s a true father)

Thank you
For forgiving me
For everything I put you through
(I can’t imagine raising me)

Thank you
For learning anger management
And then passing on the knowledge to me
(Because we both sure needed it)

Your love brought me life
Your love holds me up
Your love is everything to me
And now that you’re leaving
Love will cover us all
And love is all you will be

I will watch for your love in the stars
I will watch for your love in the sea
I will watch for your love
In the soil and the rocks
And in the sun’s light
That shines over me

But right now all I have to do
Is look at your face
To see the light shining through
And right now all you need to see
Is the love in my face
Shining right back at you

Pale-skinned person with lots of very dark hair, glasses, a unibrow, and slight facial hair.

Picture of me with my hair down and glasses slightly crooked.

Visiting Your Grave

I may never see your grave in person
But I will be there every day
That’s a promise I can keep
Every night before I sleep
As I travel to the place where you’ll lay

I will be the rain that falls on your grave
I will be the wind in the trees in the graveyard
I will be the soil that grows the plants
I will be the plants that grow from you
I will be the sky that shelters the earth
I will be the earth lying under the sky
I will be the sun shining down on the trees
I will be the trees growing over the graves
I will be the needles and leaves that fall from the trees
And carpet the ground where you lay

So don’t fear that I will never visit
I will be with you every day
I’ll be the rain and the wind
And the sun and the stars
And the earth made into clay
I will see you from above
I will see you from below
I will see you from without
I will see you from within
And if you want my flowers
Just look for the weeds
Growing at the base of your grave

The graveyard in the woods.

The graveyard in the woods.

The graveyard in the woods.

The graveyard in the woods.

The graveyard in the woods.

The graveyard in the woods.

[This is not the poem I’d been working on.  It just came out, rather quickly, all on its own.  Almost too fast to write down properly.  These pictures are the actual graveyard my father has picked for when he dies, and he has also picked out a beautiful plain pine coffin.  He loves how peaceful this tiny graveyard in the middle of the forest is.  I believe it suits him perfectly.  I will miss him terribly, but I feel better knowing his body will be laid to rest in such a wonderful place.]