Month: April 2015

“Welcome home” (XX)

Ode to the quiet in your neighborhood

The quiet
in your neighborhood
is a living quiet,
filled with regular,
consistent sounds,
and intermittent sounds
that accentuate
the quiet.

There is
just enough noise
to remind us
that we’re living
in a living world,
but not enough
to distract us
when we’re lost
in conversation.

I remember I heard
you complain
about the morning cars
that pass on the street,
and I was surprised,
not by the cars
that didn’t bother me,
but because
I had so rarely
heard you complain.

“Welcome home” (XIX)

Ode to your backpack by the door

Lightly filled backpack,
waiting by the door,
waiting to take its place among
the provisions in my van,
waiting to be transported
to pine-forest evenings
and mountain-morning streams,
you are the image of economy,
the essence of the one I love,
you are all my love needs,
when she distills her happy home
to its few essential things.

Simple backpack she carries
whenever she strays from home,
whether flying south to meet me,
or driving to watch the leaves,
you’re the lightness of my love,
the incarnation of adaptability,
the endearing lack of excess
of a peaceful, uncomplaining heart.

My love is joyful and content
wherever she is and whatever she does.
She’s modest, natural, and kind,
and as helpful and unassuming
as the simple pack she carries.

“Welcome home” (XVIII)

Ode to your bed

The evening flows in
through the windows,
and you go to your bed
to journey through the night.

Ship of dreams
and candlelight voyage,
sailing under starry skies,
your bed is where you go
to give yourself,
unguarded and exposed,
to your lover,
or to sheltering sleep.

Your high, sturdy bed
remains unchanged,
night after night,
standing on its sturdy legs,
while you shift and alter
determining who
it will hold tonight.
Will you bring it passion or peace?
Insomnia or repose?
Will you emerge restless or rested,
anxious or at ease?

Sometimes your bed
is a valley in bloom,
with soft grass and flowers,
and other times it’s a beach.
Your sheets are the waves
of a warm ocean
that rock you to sleep.

On those fortunate nights
when we go to sleep together,
the same bed that supports us
carries us through different
journeys and dreams,
and you wake, from time to time,
to listen to me breathe.
And when the morning finally comes,
and I wake and reach out
to find your familiar form,
I discover you’re already up,
already dressed and at the table,
typing out hellos
to greet the new day.

“Welcome home” (XVII)

Ode to your Christmas decorations on the mantel

Idealized image of home,
simple pattern from a simple time,
school, drugstore, house, hotel,
buildings that softly shine.
It’s a world of imagination
from the heart of the little girl,
who lives within the woman
that arranged this loving world.

I sit back in my chair,
and you sit back in yours,
admiring the invented village,
its bright windows and bright doors.

(The flicker of electric candles
moves the skaters on the pond,
and the cotton among the trees
makes us glad we’re safe and warm).

It’s a setting of wished-for scenes,
built on love and being kind,
where people help each other,
and are glad to share their time.

You’ve spent your year in meetings,
in classrooms and county halls,
fighting to help the schools
break down dividing walls,
but tonight you’ll go with me,
on a journey through your town,
hand in hand through imagination,
beneath its starry crown.

I sit back in my chair,
and you sit back in yours,
admiring the invented village,
its bright windows and bright doors.

And tomorrow we’ll sit down
with the Grinch and Charlie Brown!

“Welcome home” (XVI)

Ode to my guitar in your living-room closet

Closed in your closet,
next to the vacuum,
leaning against the wall
with its head in the coats,
my guitar dutifully waits.

Hand-made guitar
of rosewood and cedar,
Spanish guitar that kissed you
with body vibration
and starry sound.

Each day it waits in silence,
remembering the times it touched you.

It remembers in the darkness,
beneath the coats, alone.

(But sometimes a Patagonia jacket
will rest a sleeve upon its shoulder).

“Welcome home” (XV)

Ode to the dimmer switch on
your dining-room light

Dawn, mid-day, dusk:
with your dimmer switch
you create
any time at any time.

The evening begins
with the brightness of day,
with the table illuminated
by the full glow
of the dining-room light,
and it continues to burn
with its mid-day shine,
while you toil in the kitchen,
chopping and seasoning,
heating and cooling,
stirring and simmering
the evening dish,
but when the recipe is ready
and the plates reach the table,
the dazzling sun is dimmed
to a twilight tint that tempers,
that darkens and disguises
the objects of day.

Later, when the plates
are withdrawn
and the switch is dimmed anew,
your iPod plays a tune,
and we dance in the kitchen,
arm in arm,
in the gentle glow
of the electric moon.

“Welcome home” (XIV)

Ode to the straightness of your back
as you sit at the table

I watch you sit at the table,
with straight back and soft shoulders,
talking to me, or typing,
or calling family on the phone.

Your manner and movement
immerse me in ease.

Your words and rhythm
encircle me in calm.

You sit patiently at the table,
with straight back and soft shoulders,
talking, typing,
or calling on the phone.

You will never believe
how beautiful you are.

“Welcome home” (XIII)

Ode to the happiest steps I’ve climbed

I walk the short, sloped driveway,
up the two cement steps
and the four tiled steps
to your door.

I ring the doorbell.

You pull open the wooden door,
and push open the glass door,
and smile, and invite me in.

“Welcome home” (XII)

Ode to your dishwasher
After breakfast my love
takes her bowl and glass to wash them
in the small creek of the sink.
But after the well-attended dinner,
she takes the plates and pots and pans
to the mouth of the river.
She takes the stacked dishes
to the dishwasher.

Open jaw
with a hundred rubberized teeth,
with slots and baskets
to secure and carry
the porcelain, glass, and silver,
with wider molars below,
to clasp the clumsiness of pots and pans,
you are the receptacle that receives
the remnants of the day,
the basin that collects
whatever can be renewed,
whatever can be filled and used again.

You are the uncomplaining helper,
the ever-ready assistant,
who adds his watery voice
to the after-dinner conversation.
You are the waterfall
through which
each utensil passes
on its circular journey
from cabinet back to cabinet
and from drawer back to drawer.
You are the crystal pool
where the silverware swim,
shining their teeth and tails.
You are the pond where the pans
soak their water-lily leaves.

And, next morning,
you are emptied,
with a syncopated series of sounds,
with the opening and closing of cabinets,
with the swish and jingle of drawers,
with a clink and clank like the sound
of a knight storing a suit of armor.

“Welcome home” (XI)

Ode to your china cabinets
Glass cabinets,
mounted to the ceiling,
above the kitchen counter that separates
the dinner table from the kitchen,
your china seems weightless,
suspended in air,
waiting to be plucked
like porcelain fruit from a branch.

My love gathers her harvest,
plate, bowl, wine glass, glass,
filling her basket
with assorted shapes and sizes,
then arranges them, carefully,
in still-life patterns
on the canvas of the table.

And when her guests arrive,
she offers a meal and merriment
beneath the translucent branches,
beneath the shiny shade,
beneath the weightless canopy
of porcelain and crystal.