Poetry by Sandy Coomer
Visit from my Lost Child
When he comes, I am sitting on the fallen trunk
of a persimmon tree, waiting for the sun to carve
the mountains from the night.
I catch the scent of pine and smoke before I feel
his hand on my shoulder, before he traces the bones
of my neck and back with his thumb.
He unzips my skin, climbs in, wraps his arms
around my heart, presses down its beat. I feel
the urgent quickening of a newborn star,
the patient settling of a cradle. I tell him how the mirror
shatters every morning, how my feet are paved in scars,
how every time I lift my head from the table of sorrows,
a crow pecks out my eyes. My heart pours oil
from its split chambers and he spins himself out of me.
He sews the bones of my spine with a fishhook and red twine
just as the sun spreads the horizon silver and white.
Stay with me, unborn flower, folded map, broken tune.
He fades at first light, once again too soon.
It is February and the rain
that’s been building the clouds for days
reaches a bursting just when
a wide arctic hand scoops low.
My southern town is pelted
with ice. In your northern home
maybe you are sipping coffee
from the handcrafted pottery mug
you bought at the art fair
or making a sandwich, slicing tomatoes
and thinking how less juicy and red
they are than ones from the farmers’ market.
Maybe you hear on the Weather Channel
that the south is bracing for a fierce winter storm,
and already cities as far
as Atlanta are seeing snow and you think of me
and remember I don’t have chains
or snow tires and you hope I’ve been to the grocery.
You are fond of snow or at any rate
are used to it and rarely notice the cold,
but maybe you picture me
shivering on a cool rainy spring night and maybe
you regret that you didn’t
put your arm around my shoulders,
offer me the elements of your affection
because fear and appearances got the best of you.
I hope if you are still standing
in your small kitchen alone, pouring
another cup, you remember
the time you touched my face when it was dark
and we were alone and we held
each other much too long saying goodbye.
You think of me scraping
my windshield, slipping on my driveway,
my hands red and numb
and maybe you wish you could warm me
in the cave of your arms.
Promise you’ll breathe deeply the fragile air
and check your phone
for my message and send me a smiley face in return,
a small trade for these feelings,
too vast and desperate for the space between us,
too beautiful for words.
I’ve come to the lake to take pictures,
capture first light lifting off water,
raise an image that is more
than the muted colors of a tired morning,
of a world worn dull with sorrow.
It’s hard sometimes to find
a reason to smile when all around me
the final edges of the good I believed in
sink beneath a hard reality. I can’t argue
that the world isn’t sometimes terrible if you listen
to its language, if you stall beneath its weight.
But, watch the lake. It wants nothing
more than to stroke the shore, curl
kinder arms around the sun-shifted bank.
The things I want are simple too – a fingerprint
of the window of understanding,
a thread of faith.
It’s not memory’s work to hold me
crouched against the brick walls
of my suffering, nor is it the will
of my past to latch the gate
and leave my dreams starving
in the sullen shadows of a narrow field.
The sun rises every morning –
the sun stands to speak at the lectern,
sweating and brimming with light.
So what if my heart is broken.
That’s part of a heart’s job – to break
a thousand times
over the darkness of this world and still
peer through the smallest window at dawn,
ready to leap across the empty lawn
and gather whatever light lies waiting,
like manna, to fuel a single day’s breath.
I take what I need –
a spectrum of color
as photons dance in shimmering waves,
the light brilliant and endless.