They Come Dressed in Feathers

thumbnail_-facebook_1483738169765That was how the spirit left the scene,

with one feathered wing dipped in the ashen sea.

The moment becomes a window,

the photo an eternity to gaze through


becoming signs, rippling to find

where the child once stood,

so that the saddened would be assured,

as they gathered along the shore

beneath oak and behind shades,

that this was how he made the transition.

The next phase of the journey,

no longer earth bound,

contours cast off and scattered to the deep,

commingling than expanding

to include these wings

and all the moments that are arresting.

We can find you when heavy clouds accumulate,

as the light that breaks through the sorrow,

as the wisdom that all is temporal.

The ways and the means we mill over

must appear smaller from up there,

ant-like and in miniature.

The shadows that surround

can levitate from the ground

when the sun moves them,

when all the white homes

appear like a runway of bones for those in flight,

passing with flashing talons

to penetrate the dreams of those inside.

Clear as the glint in your eyes,

I remember the whole trajectory,

as you cross the sky like an Egyptian deity

with one feathered wing dipped in the ashen sea.


Up north the family cottage grows cold.

The once glowing furnace of the potbellied stove

emits no smoke from its chimney beneath the trees.

Yet the floors still creak

and something beyond the elements speak at the edges,

with the spring of your essences.

It moves beneath everything,

even when no one is listening.

The sound of cracked ice on the lake

reminds me that the ancestors will take

the surroundings given and speak through them,

moving the pine’s limbs to shadowbox with the wind,

they make themselves known, if only briefly,

outside the pages of that great mystery

unread in the cobwebbed dust of your library.

Our lives are the layers in the walls they built,

slivers of glass in the windows and lamps they fastened

another stitch in the tapestry,

that which completes me, speaks through me,

through the imagination, peering from a darkened sky,

projecting light on the pillows of the dream’s eye

like a moon wrapped in sheets of cloud

on a winter’s night.

I hear you most clearly in the quiet hours

before anyone wakes,

when the lake would ripple its way to the pier

and two loons draped in mist would appear,

skimming the water’s gaze

over the length of the great Birch,

they’ll materialize and search

through my guise, at once familiar

in white tunic and shoes of leather,

they’ll come dressed in feathers,

dipping one wing in the surfaces of memory,

moving what preceded me,

deconstructing but giving breath to me,

an extension, their living entity,

poised between worlds.


The worker of stained glass


The worker of stained glass

Your large hands, folded and at rest

course and weathered to suggest

the myriad ways you held us all together.

Shot through with veins like pipes

you worked with all your life

in half-formed buildings

or in a dark basement

hunched over your desk and craft,

you provided endlessly.


I was always impressed

that working man’s hands like these

could be so graceful and precise to plant seeds

to fasten tiny shades of light

to a garden of glass

where luminous flowers bloom in chandeliers

to outlast any dark or drought.

To your hands I pay homage

those hands that built the cottage

crafting a family to place inside

those unique borders and lines.

Each piece of varying shade and hue

in time will become the glue

that holds the whole pattern together,

each is necessary.


I’ve spent these last few nights

looking into the light of your lamps

and all their watery eyes.

I realized that if only there was enough glass

to contain the stain

of all the loss and pain death leaves behind,

perhaps the light coming through

could guide from within you

like glittering shards

from our collective windows

shining paths in our empty yards,

paths that will lead us through the lonesome winter

to the warmth of being together.