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I’d not noticed it before:

Signs of your coming demise

Loaded into your very hand,

The one waving at the camera

As you beamed, standing in front of the museum

That showcased your life’s work.

Your hand a digital trainwreck;

Inexplicable folds of skin, non-belonging, deep imprints

In the tips of your fingers, when had it all

Become so misshapen?

89 years young, the top of your head framed By the letters “CDC MUSEUM”.

Yet you just smiled, natty in glasses and navy sweater,

Unaware of what your hand told the lens, told us all:

I am leaving, I am leaving soon. Don’t forget

to ask me to tell you all that I have done,

everything these hands have wrought.

Did you ask me? I tried to write it for you,

with these hands, even this very withered one, until

I could no longer write, and then had to

record my voice. But then,

I could not remember.

Your hand mutely asks: will you reconstruct me?

Yes, I answer now, I am writing in the history you omitted,

researching, searching so much for the person you were

independent of my father. But even before I do that (my life work)

You are already reconstructed (so finely)

in manifestations you never dreamt.

Your descendant’s hands (two generations on)

beckon the future:

Spread wide as yours, but flawless- smooth, diminuitive palms

everything yours were when you were her age,

just a poor boy living in Oxford, Georgia,

reading, writing and working, stealing ice, carrying groceries,

excavating your way out of the Depression and into World War II


Published by Sorenlit 11 26 2021



The young woman ahead of me, dressed in a form-fitting trenchcoat and fashionable shoes;

nevertheless could not stand straight; her back hunched under

the weight of a…papoose?

No papoose; but one mimicked; faux backpack lacing.

Her burden heavy textbooks, lessons learned, not assimilated.

Oh, but you will carry a papoose too,

on your back or strapped to your front.

My daughter’s consuming desire for the future bundle-the precious cargo.

I feel it immediately, consumingly.

How do I tell her the carrying cannot end there?

The burden is life-all of your seconds, minutes, hours, days-months-

-years inexorable; ones experienced-ones imagined

-and the ones which can’t be borne.

When you are done carrying baby

[she will talk, crawl, walk, learn, drive, fly!] and just when

you mark and marvel her progress, [it is done!]

Then-you will carry another.

You will carry your mother.

She will fall, she will break, she will suffer and endure.

She will stop talking and only use her eyes.

She will grow tiny and fragile.

You will take her arm-then push her wheelchair.

One day you will not have to push it anymore-she will not need it,

Confined as she is to bed.

And then she is gone.

Light as a feather she is when you hold her, hollowed out, soul and essence vaporized

and as you hold her tight you realize

she will never feel your heart beat again.

You will not realize what you lost until much, much later and

that too cannot end…

Then the cycle will begin again.

Just when you think you cannot bear it, again you will carry.

You will carry life;

a mewling kitten, a rescued plant, a beautiful new baby,

a book of poetry you birthed as surely as your own daughter;

you will realize that what you carried is now inside of you,

carried more lightly yet carried still:

Mother, you are an unending mountain stream,

a ceaseless whispering waterfall of words

and a forest full of lofty thoughts-

nonending doors opened for strangers,

kind smiles for hundreds-even on bad days,

compassion for people worldwide-people

people you do not even know and will never meet.

Now I carry them all; the treasured, light burden

borne royally – all within you.

Mother-my very own Ark of the Covenant,

carrier of all carriers.

Anciens II

Published by Sorenlit 11 26 21

We Stand

White bones on warped and crooked frames hang
elegaic and heavy, with storied groanings
and countless lessons.

We hear only the crack and pop of frail limbs breaking-
We do not hear their voices or see the beauty of
the fragant dogwoods yet to bud and bloom.

Why can we not recall the heft and sweet fragrance of
their mature timbers,
all around in the shadows of the temple?

The lean-they wait-they endure-and bear ice with grace.
The icicles drip down the seconds, hours and minutes
of our very lives-
the cool water we will not drink.

For these riches-are these anciens to be despised,
cut down? Left for firewood to be consumed and forgotten?

Perhaps we have forgotten who was always there
to shelter us from the rain,
Or in whose mighty laps we sat,
Or who was there to point our way
out of forests dark.

Is is too late to ask them
What they witnessed before you came?
Even though they are weighted by snow and clasped by ice-
ideas teem within, concepts, memories,
of battles fought and lost-or won-
and faint-oh so faint memories
of why.

Do not hate the snow,
it, too, is a promise.

Perhaps before these charcoal-anointed trunks
are bent down and burnt,
we will not rush to the next attraction-
the larger parade-
or try to read the last page first to determine
the outcome of their story,
but breathlessly wait for the Spring.