Friday, January 16, 2009

A dedication

"Half of the time, I can't stop crying for him, even though I know I should throw him away, let him go. I believe the day will come when I'll go out into the yard and toss up my hands and he'll sail away. The winds will take him." --Jane Hamilton, "The Book of Ruth"

This poem still needs some work, I think, but here it is anyway.

Shoes and Souls, A Parable

“Can a life that is lived
still love what it lacks?”

Say perhaps
that when you were 12
you lost one shoe
on a canoe trip at
summer camp.
One half of
a favorite pair of sandals
given to you months earlier
a birthday gift from
your father.
And when you climbed into the canoe,
you glanced down and thought
about tightening the strap
but got distracted
by life-vests and bug-spray
and sunscreen and current.
And within the hour,
you watched as your shoe
floated downriver.
Say perhaps
you tried to stop it
with an oar
or even jumped out
after it.
But it swirled and dipped
out of sight
to be lodged in the debris
somewhere miles down.
Say perhaps
that because you were 12
(and 12 is the very cusp of adulthood)
you didn’t cry
until you could escape
to the corner of your cabin
and mourn for the loss of
one half
of a perfect whole.

Say perhaps
that you cannot stop dreaming
that one day
A Heavenly Messenger
will arrive
hand you an envelope
that explains everything
hand you the shoe that you lost
when you were 12.

Say perhaps
the dream came true
and you could hold again
that one half
a something lost
that you could keep
to have and to hold
for the rest of your life.
And after you’ve told it
how many tears you shed
the only thing to do
is to put it on a shelf
and look
at something you’ve outgrown.

And if he jumped ship
and floated down the river
it’s only a matter of time
before you’ll outgrow him.
And after you’ve cried
in the corner of your cabin
you can pull on your own
complete pair of shoes
the ones with just your name on them
throw your hands in the air
and step back into the boat.