Poem for Shirley

Listen Along:

What worlds you’ve traveled
Now more than just the one
To hell and back they say
What doesn’t kill us
Takes everything we have
Takes everything away until
It takes everything we have
To stay.
To smile.

Faith is a restless phantom in the night
Clanging chains of hope
For those of us who’ve been there
And back.
And back is a place we can never go
Now that the foundation—our foundation
The only world we ever really knew
The one where we were loved by one
Is gone
Not just cracked. Removed and piled on the lawn like so many memories
Hissing in the high grass of grief.

Now that we know
Of mice and bunnies
The sharp teeth of time
Go to seed in our beds
As we lay open-eyed daring hands to go where numbness comes
Dreaming keys to (b)lock it out
And keep us safe within.

Safe within
A new foundation
Lays down at your tired feet that never really sleep
Peering up at you with puppy dog eyes
And begs
And begs for you to reach out your hand again
To reach in to the fire
To scoop up the ashes of the past
Into the cupped hands of that beggar hope
And make alms out of faith
To make amends with fate
To stay.
To smile.
To know that joy never had to be earned in the first place
Nor did it come from some place else
It is our birthright – joy, and with it pain
Even on the very day of our births.

Even on the day, let’s let the sorrows we would trade
Give way and crumble to the ground below
Let’s let them lay like Mona Lisa Mason(ry)
Beneath the interlocking parts
Of the pieces left of us
Where we connect.

When we connect
Our simple concrete foundations
Become recovery room floors for our weary feet.
Our feat
Is a finger-tip on a spinning globe.

What worlds we have traveled
Now more than just the one
We are part of a whole on a cobblestone path
Where friends are the patterns that make
Everything we didn’t lose
Worth living for.

Make my day