Cleaved cleft chins, white teeth, braces, pink watermelon lipgloss, and beards all seem ridiculous these days. Behind a mask there’s no way to shine a smile of gratitude to a shop clerk or for someone’s kindness in holding open a door. We look plastic in polarized soundless shock. The cranes fly overhead in t-formations migrating from and to places I never studied and to think about it those birds I knew, birds where I’ve been basking in year and outside tome. We live in the same warmth that those millions of million year old northerners calved their ill suited families to drag suitcases behind them. Straining and scraping down all the front porch stairs while waiving goodbye wearing dry dirt colored corduroys and flag striped mock tops. Masking the sounds of the dead floorboards as winter draws nearer, I cracked my knuckles on hands divided by savage time.
His polished apple green eyes shone beneath his hat brim
The color of a clear blue sky.
A white shirt covered his chest up to his chin. Queued in line that day
And to tell you now the truth of what I found
While I stood impatient and late
In a restaurant now burned to the ground.
Instead of the usual hello or how you’s
I heard the voices of my ancestors all in harmony
In his message undisguised, I heeded the lifelong call.
From the back he He smiled at me and said, “you’re blessed.”
And then he turned around
Where he looked from the front back to me
And he said these words without speaking.
He looked at me and I thought I’ve seen him
Some familiar faces come calling
Some voices the echoes of all time
And I never saw him again in a crowd
Or alone in my dreams at night.
He stood ahead of me and whispered as
He smiled at me, “you’re blessed.”
“Keep talking and writing. Never come to an end. We are watching over you, we hear your every breath.”
“We know you and you’re blessed by god,”
And I said thank you after he said god blessed you to me
And I repeated his last few words.
“Next!” cried out the counter man
Startling my mind from a state
I felt neither here nor now
He ordered a sweet tea and paid
Then took number 81 and he moved left to wait to be called.
I nod to him he nodded as well, he’d already done his calling.
Ordering now paying for my number 82, racing to wash my hands and back
Yet no time had elapsed: when I returned he was gone.
The man behind the counter called out, “81!”
A family of five all hurried to take their grease stained brown bags.
And I looked for him
A sky blue man
But my memory’s all I own.
His skin was the color of every race
His face was ageless and clean
His clothing impeccable
No creases or wrinkles
In his body or his clothes
His hat sat atop his presence
Like a halo or something above his flawless essence.
He may as well have been carved into marble
By the hand that moves the stars
And he disappeared into the sunlight
Before I could ask what right I have
Why me and not someone else?
I felt undeserving of this day
The Beginning my lifelong gift
To lose every fear I’d known of
The pain of my terminal illness
But the ache in my heart vanished
Along with the smile I saw on his face
He brightly shone
Like the mid day sun
And no one heard his name.
When an angel speaks
To you and you alone
Listen and let doubt melt from Your mind
If someone helps carry you home.
Don’t laugh in the face of the messenger
In a moment I understood
That life on multiple dimensions
Can be known but can’t be seen
And god steps with us in the path we take
Be kind and be loved and give what you know
To the world and receive every dream.
The day will come before we leave
The ones in our lives bereft.
No one is spared who’s born
Of pain or of illness or death
From the moment our minds open
Our eyes begin to close again.
Never waste a messengers gifts
Doubting only brings us to our knees
Not bent in prayer or meditation
But in the to the heartache of our own empty grave.
I’m not afraid of my city, the way people once behaved as one might catch cancer if they came close to me.
Stranger hours bring strangers in the darkness and the night closes down the city.
In the darkness there’s a hiding place for everyone.
In everyone there’s a place where darkness resides.
We reside where the damp air creates webs around street lights
Where the lights cast only enough to break into the air thick as Texas toast.
I’ll meet you for breakfast at 3 a.m. for toast and coffee.
We’ll watch the steam rise up from our cups of coffee like dew around streetlights.
And you shake the dew from your mackintosh, remove your toque and hang them like a perspective on the coat rack.
Missing you reminds me of the perspective that life and loss walk the same road though we feel so alone.
And you say I’m alone now. You ask me to come back and love you again.
Again I rise to leave a man who is the loss of who walks along the empty street next to me.
I’m lost I tell you, and love left with you so long ago.
So long I say as I pick up my own coat from my seat in the booth.
And leave you there to feel the loneliness and look at the empty seat as I did before you arrived.
Dedicated to you – and you know this is for you.