Gush (For Olivia 2)

Your great grandmother sits with all the perfect poise of an orchestra,
pulling her arms across the empty air in front of her like a bow pulling across the
perfectly strung strings of a singing cello,
as you thumb jump plastic frogs across that same lawn
where I sat so many Sunday afternoons,
hearing the same singing stories that you hear now.
And today, the mouth of that river we scooped you out of
is gushing salt and story.

And the sky-
whipped white and perfect blue.

And today,
I remember when your great grandfather lay in that hospital bed,
his face an agony of waiting,
dragging his hands across his stomach,
those earthquaking hands that ripped him free of the earth,
his fingers catching on the cords
that strapped him in to his skin,
and while the morphine would have explained the shaking,
I am still convinced entirely that it was just his holy soul
breaking itself loose of its cage.
I know this because
when his quaking hand held your tiny dancing feet,
his fingers curling and folding like a blanket furling
about you,
he was still,
stiller than a stopped clock.
There’s no better reason to stay than you,
even for those who were promised that death,
is just a going back to god.
No one ever deserved a promise kept more than him.

I don’t know if you will remember these things,
so I will remember them for you.
I will wrap these stories round me like sheets and make my bones a torch.
When you are lost, take my spine and light me,
hold me in the dark like a lantern,
lift me to the night sky
and I will light your way back
through the black,
to here,
to the mouth of the river that
wept you out in gospel song and tears of perfect blue,
to the place where all of these words written,
across all of these shining skies,
are just complicated ways of saying,

I love you.


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