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Panegyric

I.

I curled on my left side, resting in a nest of sheets.

Translucent ribbons of green light spanned the wooden floor,

the floor that has cooled mortal feet for one-hundred and seventeen years.

You approached through the membrane of memory like a person parting

a sheer curtain, like a person halving a pear with a small blade.

You materialized from that naught space and sat on the bed next to me,

your body haloed in something like the clear, sweet liquid from canned peaches.

You stroked my head like you would do to a sleeping child, and although my hair

is white now, I welcomed that vanilla warmth from you, who roam the worlds.

I cried because you were there and you were not there,

because I am here and the world has changed for the better,

because you still love me, I am preserved.

II.

Pink and yellow streamers flutter twist an etheric Maypole.

Kuan Yin’s emerald slippers tremble, and you are cloaked in hawk’s feathers.

You take my hand and I slide into a glowing star swirling counter

clockwise into an astral door.

Egg salad sandwiches, heavy on the mustard,

celery sticks, iced-tea—it’s a normal lunch. Clean and quiet, freshly mown grass.

You’re in a yellow dress, trimmed with lace, low-heeled, white pumps ready for a church event.

My eye turns to the yard outside the window. It feels big and lonely,

shaggy grass and a far off shabby chain-link fence tilts inward slightly

under the weight of the neighbor’s shrubs.

A white and sky-blue kiddie pool sits a few yards up to the right.

A hands depth of water and a few grass blades from mowing confess

it hasn’t held guests in a while.

This seems like a trip into that other life. The one you fell into when you left.

The one where you’re busy, busy. I’m not sure what’s on the other side of that fence,

but I know if we go there, it will be untamed, unknown, undone.

III.

Is undone the same as mended?

This time, I grab your hand and yank you across the big yard to the fence.

You glance at your watch and seem to acquiesce

like you’re indulging a childish whim. Which, I guess, you are.

As we approach the edge of this life, the sky darkens—hail, tornado, meteor shower.

Who knows? You’re crying.

A cedar branch traces a red line on your right cheek.

You take off your jacket and fold it over the fence. Your dress, your shoes follow.

“It hurts,” you sob. “It hurts to leave.”

IV.

You’re whole and Byron’s grandmother.

Matthew, Christopher, Kaitlyn, and Cade will come later.

In this smaller yard, he splashes in the kiddie pool, and you step in barefooted,

wearing cutoffs and a YMCA t-shirt. Burgers sizzle on the grill.

Chuck holds a book in his left hand and a spatula in the right.

“In the name of love, what more in the name of love?” Bono asks

from and orange-sized speaker on the picnic table.

You lift Byron into the sunlight and water cascades from his small body.

He smiles and lifts his eyes to look into the distance. You cradle him close

to follow his gaze.

“Rainbow,” you say and point his little hand to the west.

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