“Scene from a Traveling Play” (Sharing an original poem.)

I woke up thinking of this poem I’d written several years ago, then thought I’d re-write it and share it with you. This is my day: go to the gym, re-write a poem, feed a tortoise, play with a cat, work on a novel. There could be worse days.

Oh, and look for February Favorites next week Tuesday! The month ended before I could prepare. (Read: my time-management game left much to be desired these last few weeks.)

On with the poem, then.

Scene from a Traveling Play

Imagining you as a child: happy, climbing
a tree where you sit above the campfire
where your mother stirs
sunrise into wood beneath the flames.

If I were to sit next to you, I’d find the branch
no heavier with your lean form,
the pause before you take off like hundreds of birds,
weightless as sparks from the fire.

Years later, you’ll remember the moment you recognized
punk undertones in an Eagles song.

Later yet, you’ll find yourself startled to see the narrative
you’d left – you thought it’d flown off,
too, but it came back
before the wind could tear away the part
describing the fullness of the voice
your mother tried to keep.

You might be as tired as the ribcage of a boy
reaching upward through water, or tired with your eyes
dry in the desert city,
dry like horses
wild as news from town, the last thing you saw
before your canine pierced your tongue-tip –

dry like the cracked tooth, the crusted blood, the scarce rain –

dry like sepia grit and blur of hooves kicking to dust.
Dry like the hands of the last generation.

One thing’s for sure: you’re not an ember
burning slowly from air into the blindness of earth.
You’re the smolder of an oar dipping beneath
the water you’ll never forget.

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