JULES ET JIM
Todd found the word near
The edge of the water. It was small.
Not more than a few syllables, hardly
Full of portent or deep meaning.
It was however a significant word.
What portent it had, it held delicately as
If in a handkerchief. It seemed to have
Suffered from too much time alone.
We stood admiring it, trying
It upon our tongues, finding sentences
Where it might open itself, exercise
It’s postures and explanations.
We are in love completely, without
Knowing quite shy, but without question.
Just as quickly, it began to change.
There was nothing we could do.
We made promises to each other.
We thought perhaps we should
Never know another such word.
Words such as this are rare.
We provide them audience.
We swear we will never forget them.
We part from them realizing mystery.
Years later we see it again,
rolling through a conversation,
Waltzes and gallops providing.
We realize we are still bound to it.
We attempt to find the old intimacy,
but it seems something other now,
As youth changes itself from
Year to year, to mean differently.
Once again we believe we are in love.
Once again we stand near the edge
Of the water, trying the same
Syllables in our mouths.
“I’m not sure.”, Todd says.
“I think it might have been
A place...or something else.
Perhaps we could learn to say it again.”
We drove up the road using it,
Believing we would once more
Understand the word as we once had.
Without meaning at all it suddenly sank beneath
The water very delicately. so quickly neither
One of use could remember it precisely.
We did not expect this to happen.
As with all words we realized only one
Word would be faithful to us at a time.
Morning would still come. We would still speak
To one another using it. We would recall everything.
Now, when we speak it, the slightest
Conversation is full of portent, as if
The word has at last found us. It is like
Feeling our bones being ground to powder,
Like the sound of dry leaves skidding away.
The water hiding its true identity from us
Forever, even as we struggle to explain ourselves.
You can’t just throw it away. It’s
Not like a morning on the water in the
West Indies, the glide of white and gray
Gulls across the small harbor, the air
Easy on the skin, a perfection of clear
Water. It is more like the night
Sky trying to hold all those stars,
Keep them in the right order and still
Convey the information of constellations,
Ancient stories and ships sharing the
Points of light to get from one place
To another. I will forget my way
Home eventually. Tracks in the snow, some
Kind of animal. Endless white
Plains. Fumbling through it looking
For a campfire, remembering a conversation
Not realizing the importance of it all,
Until the Northern Lights start up
Now this wind was an old one,
Gray and wandering almost
Aimlessly, disturbed at the alley,
Unwilling to find its way down there,
Barely moving the paper littered
On the ground. And that voice...
I’ve heard better sound on the desert,
On the sand dunes where the marks
Of bitter winds show their pictures,
Show their stories with fabled
Hands and private dances
Owned by the night and the hare
And the coyote and the soft-footed lizard.
Still, we will listen to it. It is all
We have now and we are no longer
Ourselves young. We pull our coats
Closer to our throats pretending
It is cold or relentless. It is only
Old and finally we must climb
The trees discover where it
Has come to dwell in the high branches.
THE REMEMBERING WIND
Spring to Summer, Summer
The vernal pools with their white birds
Gathered at the edges. The gold
On the rocks. That oak tells
Everything it knows. This is
The remembering wind. This
Is its time. We will see it so
Seldom we will try to touch
Its tall choirs swirled with clover
fields and flowers of a thousand colors.
We catch at its fine strings, shaking
Ourselves to believe. This is the
Remembering wind. It glistens
Like jewel stone glistens. We are
Learning to speak once again.
The tall ships move into our
Language, their sails full of
The Remembering wind.
It is morning.