When the Dust Settles

You can’t judge your life
from the floor of the coliseum.
You deal with what comes
through the iron doors.
You hear the cheering,
the boos, the chants
for your elimination.
You have the memory
of loyalties, love
beyond reckoning,
dreams gone up in smoke.
When the dust settles,
the noise of the crowd
dissolved in the sweet
peace of aloneness,
you can look back,
deal with your regrets,
make medicine with what
cannot be changed.
Your place in the arena shifts,
you’re not front line in the fray.
You share what you know
with the young warriors,
keeping your balance
in deeply worn footprints.
Scarred and thankful
for all you’ve known,
who will be the last voice heard
as you exit the arena?
Your mother’s guidance,
your father’s words of advice?
The sound of your children,
their shining faces
brave into this world.
The loyal woman
who stood by you
in the fight.
Maybe only the voice
of birds and the wind
sighing in tall trees
beside the moving tide.
Just that will be enough.

 


photograph by Willard Walch

 


Song for the Children

Sunlight angles from the south
brightening the last autumn leaves,
Earth folding in her beauty,
sending trees back to root,
laying down winter blankets,
freshening every river and stream.
We’re children, busy about our games,
chalking pavement, skipping rope,
the grownup Earth too large, too old.
East of the mountains, the land
brown and rough like elk hide,
grass fields quiet and still.
Over the coast range
ocean raises her skirts
sending dancing waves
to cleanse the stony shore,
begin the long rain.
Outside my window
the flowering cherry
goes down in russet and gold,
eyes slowly blinking before the big sleep.
Inside of me an alleluia rises,
free from the mind maze
and intolerable categories,
ready to sing a farewell to autumn,
welcome the dark melodies of winter.
Fallen leaf, cold stark mountain,
river of glory, this is my song
and I sing it for the children of the earth.

 

 


photograph by Rebecca Hynes