Change, Poetry

Swing Low

I say
I wish you could see me now
but I don’t
believe you would recognize
sight. Eyes are useless
underground. Blind as phantoms
housed in walls
long since deeded to no one
of shared blood. What if the final form
is not trumpets and Velvet
Moon, not 3-4 blessed be
croon and gleam, pearl winged
Harry James melting
open cloud to gold leaf
Tiffany, but
a burrowing
creature
rooted under our feet? A mole
does not know dark or fear
burial. All this color
I imagine
only up on the surface
of waking
you see
through vision’s simulacra:
An endoscope
of whisker
magnifies. Scent intrudes
as stimulus while skin-stretched
drum converts wave to danger,
pleasure, prey,
mate.

I must look
the way you see
me now: as heat cracks
at cliff face. As confluence
of salt and iron pounding
back canyon wall
thuds measure
after measure into belly
bowl and marrow.

The echo.
The boom.

Up here I may
have a corner
on the market of names
for blue
but you take the curve
at full tilt
without the help
of oxford
and steel, with no street
sign written in any language
called language
yet you discern
humus and loam,
sixth-sense know the tongues
of strata you now inhabit
and have become
without any of us up here
understanding
that you did live forever
after all.
 

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My son informs me that God is real.
“He lives in a house in the sky,” he tells me.
“When people die on earth, he brings them back to life up there.”
And, as an afterthought, “God also makes the storms.”

How does he know these things?
He has never been to church.
Our Sunday morning conversations are more likely to involve
atmospheric pressure
than divine intervention.
Even though my own faith lies in stars and seas
mitochondria
and ink
I do not question where my son sinks his teeth.
He is five
and is entitled to his comforts.
Who could blame him for finding solace
in a home
forever
for everyone and everything
that vanishes from his sight?

Imagine what a sprawling, jumbled neighborhood
it must be.
Not just the all the people and their pets,
their chariots and wagons and vintage cars
restored to their chrome-fendered glory,
but the fields of prairie grass and wheat
blown away in the dust bowl, now lush and pulsing
with the hoofbeats of buffalo
by the thousands.

Up there, even dead ideas have their chance at salvation.
The earth rotates around the sun.
Phrenologists find answers in the topography of skulls
and every family is still intact,
their quaint, precious routines repeated without a hiccup
for all eternity.

When you are finally ready
to admit that one notion of the way things are
is ill-suited to this life,
it is nice to picture it taking root in a corner of heaven
so at least the effort of holding it so long
was not wasted.

When my boy was small, he declared himself a girl
and lived as one for a year.
Up there, in God’s teeming quarter,
my three-year-old daughter
in a pink tutu and tiara
rides the back of a diplodocus
who dips its head
to nibble
from a pole bean stalk
flourishing a little more each day
as its twin
in our back yard
decays
in the deepening winter.