Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Joseph Lisowski writes



Pages flip back,
turned by a wet wind--
We're in a courtyard now
decorated with snow,
which she scoops
and pats into a ball.
I witness dreams
that dance from her breath
that break the frost.
Cold tickles her nose.
So many snowflakes
gently sailing down.
White petals surround
her delightful shrieks.


Rage rises from a place
where apples crack
scattering leaf and branch alike.
And the tree splits
under one mighty whack.

My wife's keening from a far room
becomes one breathless wail.
She is calling
and I must go.
I find her slumped on the couch,
arms flung wide,
her left leg bleeding.
A parody of crucifixion.

I take her in my arms.
Her wailing does not stop.
I know I am here
to guard the boundaries.

She rises, as if on stilts,
and stabs her way into the kitchen.
I sit, alert to her every sound.

When she returns
her silence is heavy breath.
I feel the demons slowly leave,
but know that I am not a perfect sentry,
that the most insidious still remain.


I pray before sleep,
then awaken hours
before dawn. Absence
fills the room.
My fingers tick
numbed solace.
One bead, then another.
"Hail Mary . . . " "Hail Mary . . ."
"Our Father . . . ."  I am
a father of a child
whose warmth I can no longer feel.

"Our Father . . . ," I repeat,
hoping for sleep,
hoping for anything
but this,
this one irrevocable


Clouds cover all the sun's faults:
heat that levels layers of thought,
skin that reddens, blisters, then cracks,
tongues that become delirious,
eyes that lose sight.

Clouds, dark, heavy with rain,
bring hope of cooling, cleansing.
The touch of people who know God
is like that.  Their arms are shelter
like cedars of Lebanon, their tears
the waters of Shiloh.

Death opens grief to emptiness,
a nakedness the hot light of day
beats raw.


Healing is a long, lingering kiss
that lifts you from flesh.
In that instant, all is full.
A heartbeat is enough,
entire without hint of lapse.

But God's kiss is never
held long enough.
You inevitably take a breath.
And hope becomes a beggar
who wears your discarded clothes.


Suddenly I know.
My daughter is alive
in the light of God's love.
I turn to her, she is bouncing
on the couch where she always sat.

Her energy is golden.
I turn to her
like a leaf or flower
to the sun.  I cannot resist.
I blush at her beauty.
And suddenly, she's gone.


My wife, lithe as a bride, prances
into my afternoon bringing streams of light.
I open the door and let it all in.
She is airy, lovely, full beyond frailty.
Her only daughter is dead,
and after months of keening
her face is young and hope grows.

If only for a moment.

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