016_imogen-cunningham_theredlistIn the other place of keeping
afterward when door is softly closed
and light extinguished
where flowers bloom without need of sun
perfuming air with unseen stamen
at last you are unburdened, free of torment
we sit at oiled wood table
eating buttered toast with fingertips
you tell me of  real things
that time you fell into a river as
you reached for tires swinging overhead
just one more inch and you’d have been saved
from submerging with oily fish
and yet you say, it taught you
the value of sinking and how quiet
beneath the world can be
where creatures with opaque eyes glide past
watching you try to breathe
they called it a near drowning
you claimed second-sight
we shuffle our checkers, mindful
it’s your turn to win tonight
for Paul
you were a brother of sorts
sprinting ahead of jostling crowd
lean and bronzed by effort
your heart a flutter of machination
once you said, now I am old
and I laughed and reminded you
there’s so much time left
except you knew
and I did not
time can collapse upon itself
just as it begins so it can end
all the days we spent waiting for the next
better to live now and climb
that tree to sling rope and dangle seat
children long after us
will come to the river and watch
each others fear and then wonder
jumping into the void
and as you are gone
I clear away the plates and ready for the next day
not sure it will be free of rain
I hear you outside among the trees
you are laughing at me
for my fear of things I cannot know
remember, you say, it’s not about control
it’s about having the courage to try
I watch you walk toward the river
you are straight and lean again
no scars, no pain cross your way
I want to go with you but you have told me
it is not yet time
we’ll play again, be patient
master this moment
live now in the warm rush of water
watching overhead
moving clouds turning from blue to white
and then to grey
For Paul. You counted, and you mattered.