SEQUOIA

An alternative love poem

A controlled burn—also known as back burning—clears everything in its path.

When wisely calculated, it can renew all through the brilliant ferocity of fire.

Trees dancing flaming insanity light up the night sky.

Everything old on the forest floor becomes fuel

for the carefree wanderlust of red and orange.

The night sky screams as billows of smoke set sail;

gray-black waves exhaling into the moon’s starlight ocean,

clouds jostling to hold their own against the hot-faced intruder.

*

Though I did not calculate well the burning that brought you to me

I did sniff the winds of change and following a wild impulse,

drew a ragged breath, lit a match, and threw it down.

Another match I threw, not caring what took fire.

Ragged breath turned to scorched sound,

white heat laying waste the shell of all

patient waiting, proper praying, false illuminating.

No pretty contemplation this;

only pure agony shrieking light.

Gasping on hands and knees, I choke and let go,

 vomiting strangled metaphors of freedom and beauty

and what it means to be at peace in this world.

Gutturally chanting, my voice erupts volcanic, demanding

that what was torn from me like stitches from a still raw wound be returned.

How it comes I care not.

But I swear by all that is wretched and holy that I will light the sky up

this time with my flesh and bone if the earth of my life does not

quake awake

to pure flowering green

NOW.

Tongue burning, eyebrows singed, naked skin blistering,

I listen as the wind blows still.

What pain, age, and this wild night has not burned from me crackles and is gone.

Lying naked and alone, I sleep

and dream of you.

*

A controlled burn—also known as back burning—clears everything in its path.

When wisely calculated it can renew all through the brilliant ferocity of fire.

It is said that some seeds, like the seed of the great Sequoia,

remain dormant until broken down by fire.

This to tell you that such burning is purposeful.

This to tell you that grace exists.

 

THE GIFT

The gift came

not as I thought it would,

wrapped in pink cellophane, yellow ribbons streaming,

a chorus of glory hallelujahs ringing out.

The gift came

not as I hoped it would,

clarity streaming in like cold spring water,

bottled and guaranteed to provide easy enlightenment.

The gift came instead

wrapped in veils of past shame, of long suffering,

tied tight with ribbons of self-loathing.

The greeting card taped to the front is empty;

a blank canvas calling for me to begin anew.

I tear at the wrapping, throw it to the floor

and what has lain so long unopened/ dares to reveal my

innocent potential,

lost so long ago.

The lines on my face tell the story of one who has tried and failed.

But the gift tells true.

The gift tells true.

YOUR DOOR

It is getting on,

the night breeze whispers,

calling me down to the water’s edge,

calling me back through time

down the lane behind your house.

It is getting on. Do not delay,

my heart echoes, calling me up

from dreaming the dead dream of no life,

calling me back to peek through your window,

your face bathed in gold from the firelight.

It is getting on. I will not wait forever!

you told me once in anger when I,

in my youthful arrogance

refused your love to run after my fame,

my fame which fluttered and failed

and I too proud for too long/to come home to you.

It is getting on.

You sit so sweet and still,

not knowing that I have come once more

bringing with me my angst and anger and unresolved ambition.

But the cold December winds whispered your name

and like Lawrence’s strange angel, I reach up my hand to

knock at your door.

It is getting on.

Please, let me in.