how long,

	how long

		you've been gone:

	wandering last night

who'd I hear in the 

	whipping grass &

		the ringing wind?

	what'd I see

when the full moon

	slid behind that fat

		cloud? I must be

	talking to myself--

who's walking

	next to me on this

		beaten path? No

	one, no

one--a shadow.

	a toothless old man,

		one-eyed, with a patch,

	appears from behind

dumpsters piled high:

	"wanderin' again, eh,

		sonny boy?" turning--

	only the wind, scraps

flashing down the alley.


I see my parents still

	wailing in the living room Argentina Street,

a grey day, no wind

& out the window traffic flashing past--Aunt Fran's

	husband & son Dutch, my older cousin who'd

filled his room with electronics, a genius at 13, killed,

accident in the Rockies,

& she in a hospital, her arm broken--my first

	memory of lives, faces swept away from my life--

later, when the sun broke thru,

wonder where we go--I was six--

& after that, Dutch's oak furniture arrived,

	his bed to be my bed, his mirror where my face

would stare back, sigh & dream of love--

& Fran, recovered, circled the world alone, sent me

coins from England, Austria, Egypt, Japan,

	mysterious envelopes that arrived in the mail

worlds beyond my suburban sidewalks

& mystery gardens where I'd pause

	before an open rose & lose a day in dreams--

later, her house burned & she escaped

	miraculously, settled & worked in Maryland

as my parents' marriage cracked up,

grandpa died, I raged at fallen love & lost my heart

	until, lost, child, I found myself in Sue

& found my father again & heard

	my long-lost grandma's sighs & sorrows,

		Fran the oldest child who'd seen more

	& kept herself apart, learned to be alone--

& after that, after the loss & the fire & years apart,

	met her Hale & danced in her 70s like

		a teenager, a few years without pain--

a few years blooming in the fullness of her womanhood--

who guesses how much we can know even of those

nearest us, how others cope & sing above their suffering?

she'd refuse a funeral, would

	go home to lie with her Hale--

		these last months

awaiting an end that now comes swiftly--& I, learning of it,

	sit with my sisters & my family, my 50th birthday

stilled with this quiet moment filled with her life,

flocks of birds wheeling in slow motion, hovering around

	the feeder in winter snow-


sing light like hands caressing our temples,

     	stirring the deepest waters where

          		the faces of our lost loves return--

sing dreams flashing thunder & sighs

     	where babes still unborn open eyes

          		naked on a new world, in wonder--

sing love that emerges at dawn where

     	warm bodies stir in sleep & the simple

          		wish floats out of the ancestor's eye

to cry anew on a child's tongue as

     	he gazes on his first full moon over

          		still waters, waves barely lapping

the shore--sing the shore, that the voyage

     	end in calm harbor, the sailor free at last,

          		waiting to assume the stars:

lacking each other, we lack

     	all that matters, honest love,

          		the calm heart & clear mind,

for love is a silent voice

     	that opens us to each other

          		& to our own tears, through

all the travails & sorrows,

     	ecstasies & despairs that

          		shatter a heart & fog a mind

with regrets.  so, Fran, farewell--

     	your deep loves, your genuine voice

          		& gentle touch are mirrors

where we may search ourselves

     	on this day where dreams cross

          		in the long sigh of absence.

Mirrors & Flame
dawn at the trail bridge

	roiling mirrors passing

		faces flow & spin to reflected

sky, rising flame raging over

	old trail where antler'd seers

		& singers met at sandy shore--

silent dawn as across

	the planet tourists search for

		waking spirits in hot springs

Nagano baths, & athletes toss

	awake in beds famished for

		their moment with the world--

silent dawn as sailors peer

	over fantail endless waves &

		desert beyond--flight crews race

across deck, Iraqis pray

	& march, how many more

		days?--Clinton & pathetic

intern & Grand Inquisitor

	wrapping Gog & Magog in

		a fog of sex & accusations--

a mallard & his mate float

	downstream to the eddy

		at the bend, steam rising over

the wide basin beyond

	where currents slow & fill

		before fast flashing descent

thru icy air, the banks

	castled high with over-

		hanging drifts--thin path

turns away to where

	driven lovers sigh,

		idle engines race out

doors to stoplight 

	firefight gunning

		exhaust soft rage even

in this silence, faces

	floating mirrored below,

                   red circle of flames above.