Do you still see the dead
walking among the crowd,
in the library, on the bus,
at the playground? Everywhere
but the old stone church
where bones grow brittle
beneath its crumbling weight?

You once said they smile
and whisper words you cannot
fathom, turn, and walk away.
They carry light in glass jars,
brushing against the living
like a winter wind through
a forest of barren trees.


The wind is unrelenting,
and I shield my eyes
to stare towards the horizon.
Just when something
is almost in focus,
heat waves and haze
obscure the shapes dancing
in and out of sight. I wait
a few more minutes
before the angry gusts
nudge me forward, a reminder
that resting any longer
will not keep away the snow.


They say to wish
upon a star,
but how many
no longer burn?
Is the light
we see
an illusion
of hope
that flickered
away thousands
of lifetimes ago?
Can a prayer
survive in space,
or will invisible
energy carry it
forever through
the galaxy
long after
we’re gone?


years pass between meetings
and then we’re back
sitting in the same chairs
the same view from the window
except the trees have grown
we speak of the past and dig
up what we can recall
of things overheard
books we’ve read
stories to which we know
the ending

but here we are
attached by time
and a trail of common
experience remembering
the colors of landscape
especially those bright
flashes that appear late
in the still evening
when all is quiet
and only the wind moves
the branches between us


* From my book Awaiting the Images