Just near, just outside this window
small bird-hearted newborns sing
each with a church in its throat.
Hearing music, although you turn
away to your hurried day
you recognize these hatchlings
are akin to the stars. Know that
as you see them fledge and soar
there is no need to cry out
another spring will alight
bringing again its chorus
just near this window, just outside.
Down the Platte
Akin to Indians, we paddled in silence.
Herons peeked through cattails.
Turtles meditated on warm brushwood.
Green frogs blended with lily pads.
Two bald eagles circled above.
In kayaks, my sister and I
followed the river toward Lake Michigan.
Oars grazed the edge of the boat,
as we passed over shallow logs
lurking like hidden water moccasins.
We came to dad’s old fishing hole.
My sister wondered if the same logs
he brushed against still lay below.
Anchor down, a bucket of worms by his side,
us in the boat, because he never had a son,
we were his crew, his small fry.
But this summer day,
the river was not the same.
Dad’s Blueberry Hill was gone. Instead,
a weir and a need to portage.
The kayak rocked in wildness
as my sister climbed off
clutching my outstretched arms.
Though only a foot deep, for her,
the Platte was a drenching abyss.
We filled buckets with laughter
and fishermen’s annoyance as we
scared off their hopes of a catch.
Comrades, my sister and I
─streaming down the Platte.
My son’s gorilla is something I kept.
All the rest was left behind
with my marriage.
He doesn’t need it anymore, but I do.
I can wrap the furry arms around
my sorry self and remember
when he was little,
how I held him in my arms,
fed him, changed his diapers.
It reminds me of the day
my dad buried his brother,
his best friend.
I waited near him by the bathroom door
as he pulled on his own diapers.
He did not want anything
to ruin his suit at the funeral.
He wept in a little voice “I wish your
mother were still alive and young again
with all you girls.”
He wanted something to hold onto.
Anything but the edge of a casket.