Lighting the Lamp


for a dear friend


I light a small lamp
in the room of memory
recalling places we touched,
the knowing in your eyes
and the honesty, always the honesty;
notes scrawled below the photographs
so earnest, some frightened, searing out,
wondering if we could do enough for this world.
Looking back through November leaves
I stumble over this thought, wondering
could this world really be worthy of you?
Uncovering those later pictures, your children,
the ocean behind your bright white hair
and I know it is yes, all worth it, especially you
reminding us all these years of what is real:
loving, letting go, lighting the lamp.




If I Remember You

If I remember you
it’s only in the morning
recalling root and water,
before the rush paused
like a web of lace curtain
lifted in the cool air,
open to the blue beyond.




Iron Red Arbutus

The incoming tide is raised by a northerly breeze
in flares of white across the spreading channel,
the water muted gray like autumn’s sky
with hints of light behind soaring gulls;
descent begun in rusted leaves of the nootka rose
and winter’s pull into long nights
with the mystery of dreams.
I follow the path of retreat,
pleasure in the slowing pace,
letting go like iron red arbutus
shedding bark to pale olive green,
roots extending into dark wet loam
lifting upward the knowledge of silence.



Lough Crew

The spreading sea and rolling hills are far away,
sweeping curves of river Boyne
beneath the ancient mounds of Knowth,
below the ruins of Rathfram, the ocean
breaking on the fertile coasts of Mayo;
kin to the wet grass and pungent cattle,
the curving roads and tiny villages,
I am oceans away yet I am not
for the land is with me,
not just the stone from a grave
but the life that flows within
the soaking fields and distant mountains
as I stand upon the crest of Lough Crew
belonging to this rich green earth,
rooted with her long forgiving people.