Saint Lucia’s Day

Inside, breathing branches sprout from oak pews.

Fireflies, misplaced in December’s frost, beam in the distance,
beckoning small raving robotic feet towards them.

Apprehensive proud faces, normally high but now low,
guide a row of bobbing robins to a prearranged nest.

A jig, a gallop, and sometimes a lilt, followed and not understood,
around a taciturn pony, small in stature with a vivid coat.  He
cannot hold them forever.

Wide-eyed descendants bereft of blood ties shoulder ancient
symbols: a straw goat laced with red ribbon, rounds of rye stacked
on a blood orange wooden pole, and cotton porridge piled high
in a brass pot.

Weighty and faded gilt stars rise high in the air, reflecting the
prayers of the public who witness their passing with quiet
anticipation.

Wavering flames encased in snowballs, cracked with crystal,
herald the beginning of the end.  Modest though they are, they
too will lead us out of winter shadows.

Massive wooden doors gingerly part to reveal burning saffron
crowned in youth’s ephemeral glow and a rill of fire flows
through the tabernacle.

White wax engages in a one-sided game of tag with the star
swan’s vulnerable neck, hoping to summon it and its brethren
towards the tendrils of Spring’s solace.

Outside, snow falls against scarlet gates.

 

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The Doe (after Arthur Sze)

The river was rosy at dawn.
I saw a doe, stopped
in the water.

And when the doe walked, modest waves
flowed from behind her.  I was
a statue then.  And sensed

the doe hesitate.  And at dusk, dozing,
the river was amber in the
June mist.

The First Door On the Left

You enter the room where you child self dreamed.
Your dreams have changed but the room has not

The water-stained ceiling has not forgotten how your
salt-caked eyes stared wildly up at its jowls, dazed by
what the day had dealt you, oh so ready to retreat into
your ever expanding skull.

Those walls, those taciturn aunts and uncles, recall
your mirthful mouth making merry after August
birthday thrills and encounters with middle school
Rudy Valentinos.

The pre-Instagram picture window, alone now as it
was then, reflects on who you were, who you are, and
who you may yet become.

You leave the room where your child self dreamed.
The room has changed but your dreams have not.

Mount Takao

Up and up, up the mountain alone,
but not, for the prying sun always
tries to reach me though the stooping
pines.

Up and up, I drag my legs to the summit.
Ancient yet ever-young, our mighty friend
greets me with snow streaked shoulders,
delighted that I have made the pilgrimage.

Green tea ice cream, tasted and savored in
memory’s mouth, cannot be found.
Effort must be its own reward.

Down I start and down I stop.
Frost flowers, crouching within the craggy
folds of the mountain side like hermits
hoping to evade the sun’s judgment, listen
with me to an explanation which I can only
half understand.

Down and down, legs dangerously buoyant,
hopping over rocks that would trip me with indifference.
Faster fellows bounce past me, flying far out of sight.