Your most convincing religion

This might be the place you find it.

This beach, this silver spray,
this morning copper rise,
she and she, drawn in relief,
arms stretched out as wings,
or sails perhaps,

trawling for a leeward breeze,
soaring on some imagined gyre
of light they’ve spun from song and heart
and look and look and up into
the spun light now
as water falls from nowhere
and you watch them cut through air
and turn again to hawk their way
towards you.

You made this.
All of it.

This life, this winking heart,
the music of your ribs and this:

your most convincing religion.

You think yourself as something wide
and stretched and shining,
waiting at the shore
and as they round upon you,
all grin and wings and faux faux flap
and dive you fall back and make yourself
a place to land and rest

and so you find yourself like this:
unfurling as a map,
corners weighted by the stones
and shells she brought ashore from sea.

You find yourself: unfurled
and pinned and grinning,
belly up and laughing on the sand
as she plants her spade beside you,
winks once,
says some whispered thing
about finding what was lost
and marks an x across your chest.

Up, up, up

You find your self complaining that your back
-bent by nothing but the dead weight of your head-
is too old and sore to bend when she lifts her
tiny hands to you and asks you to lift her high.

And there you are- struck dumb and wondering
if your father remembers the last time he
lifted you, whether he knew that this time
(this begged for one more time) would be the last.

And you think of how one day when he is old
and frail and thin with ghosts, you might yet
bend to carry him, from a hospital bed perhaps,
into the fading light, or down into the earth.

And you think of all the lasts that
punctuate this thing that is your life
as she lifts her hands again and your aching
back bends and you raise her to the light.

Advice for grieving (palimpsest)

When you are done with this earth
or this earth perhaps is done with you
seek no grey extension
              of the claim you made to space

seek what truce you see most apt
          make parley with your gods

rage against the dying of the spark
    if such a rage seems fit
but know that dark will come no less
  for all your spit and clamour

when it comes, listen for the music,
for the note of      you       now hanging
soon to fade amidst the howled arrival songs
of all those yet to learn to walk
across the floor

                         on which you’ve

                                                      fallen-

        fall,
             exhale,
                         and
                                then
                                        exhale again

while you seek to see the narrowing of you
                  not for what it is
                  but for what it soon will be:

     the turning of a tide now soon to rise
                              beauty coming again
               wrestling you back to the earth
                              beauty coming again
                  clearing a space for the new

How to know that there is a thing called holy and it is small and close and sleeping

You will still feel her fingers in your palm;
the knuckled memory of her heart will hum
and echo slow as you make plans to build
a shrine to her in the spaces where she pressed

her cheek against your neck, stitched her fingers
to your chest and with an ocean calling
through the window, ebbed herself to sleep.
Now, the house at rest, her breathing, steady

as a pulse, comes humming through the wall
and carried on a vein of air now threading
down the hall to where you find yourself
waiting for the earth to turn beneath you.

In a minute, a single breath will stall
inside her throat, will gather itself, swelling
as a wave to break and exhale itself as song
and it will take a feat of will to not sing back

and wake her. You’ll tell yourself to sit instead
and sift through your agnostic language
for some vague approximation of the note
now spinning prayer wheels in your throat.