where is he now
the gardener of souls?
his “good morning” silent,
cardinals wonder why
sun, looking for a reason
summer holding on,
flowers broken without his songs
the gardener of souls
where is he now?
When Mother gets angry, the children are not safe,
clinging to walls that collapse around them, crushing
childhood beneath her wrath. She roars at us, and throws
our things about, for they mean nothing to Mother
when she is mad. She’ll unleash torrents, and we will try
to hide, but Mother knows all the hiding places.
She will knock them down or flood them with her rage, until
we are gasping for air, begging Mother to forgive us.
And when she calms again, Mother is nearly silent.
She never apologizes, only watches us through cloudy eyes
as we try to pick up broken pieces of Mother’s fury.
We hold the children and shake, and try to explain, but
we can’t. Haunted by the cruelty Mother has unleashed
on some, we whisper and hope, and glance up warily.
Do not make Mother angry.
Her name was June, but she left in May,
before the sunflowers could bloom and ask
for more days. In the stone church, whispers
spoke of the claim: cancer, a brain tumor.
Stolen summer laid her cold, draped in flowers
taken in their bloom. They would die soon.
I kept my head bowed, listened for June,
waited for the preaching, sobbing, and hymns to end.
In the front of the church, in a purple dress
with a black bow in her hair, June’s daughter sat;
I knew her well. She looked straight ahead and made
no sound, and that is why I kept my head down.
And when the cars were gone, and I was alone
I wept, and I wept to the church and through June.
The last months of her life, when the brain tumor
grasped and haunted her head, June had changed.
And her daughter, so many days, so many different
colored bows, would tell stories of the crazy things
her mom would do and stay. And it wasn’t June.
It wasn’t your Mom. I cry because we have lost
part of summer, but I weep for her girl in the purple dress,
and the June she remembered as she sat on those steps.
Listen, hear, I am but a gull whose feathers
raise against offshore winds, but the sea,
the sea sent me with words for you.
I waited by the shore break, passed
many days, tides, and angry rain, for the sea
spoke, called forth the sun. As I rode
his rolling surf, he sung of his love for you,
the furious storms that frightened you away.
He knew you trembled in your sleep, dreamt
of being swept away under his dark waves.
He quieted, and waited for your sun to return.
“Gull,” he cried, “She will come back. Tell her
not to go. Look upon my gentle calm.”
And I was part of the sea, and believed.
You sat with the sea all that day, felt, heard,
listened his song of calm, until the clouds
pulled across the sun, though he fought them,
they were angry, and dark. The sea tried,
and tried to hold his calm but the dark
clouds and wind were joined, and the waves
swelled, and louder, crashed, higher and soon,
you were trembling again, and left. I was sorry.
And the sea still cries for you.