On a Hill in Wales, Father and Son

For my Father, for my Grandfather, for my Words

1.

To the beginning son, go back with me
Remember how I stood beside you when…

No, you only remember my absence.

Here we return with precision, an arrow
Fired by the great Tell who reveals us.
The apple on our heads, the gift of Eve
Who saw in us the beginning of Love.

2.

On a hill in Wales, Father enters me
Not with punishment, but with his sadness.
Fills me with a beauty that consumes me:
Simple sheep graze on green grass on green hills, 
Too many verdant hues to name. The blue meets us 
Compassion like the sky hosts metamorphs: 
Clouds, lurking innocent children of beasts 
Whose anger gave us this green, gave these sheep.
Gave us wool that warms us in winter.
Gave us mutton that fills our hunger.
Beauty these gifts represent enters
Me like Father returning to the land 
Of his own. “Get on your knees, son, sorrow,
You must feel it now.  These gifts given you 
Lie in waste like blood in scaled veins. Look up!
Through tears, I show you once again! This time, 
I will humble you and you will know Love. 
With it, do good like storm begets spirit. 
Rise up, face the life I called you to live.”

3.

I got off my knees and climb the mountain
To toss the precious that ruled like a curse
Masking my Soul, invisible to me,
Led me to the river to steal fish
From mouths needing food,
Kill those whose only crime:
The place of their birth.
I became Monster
A monster does not know exists
Until 
The mirror sees past the blush,
Through the mascara of a mask painted 
In green rooms of youth only to be smudged 
By the tears of life’s stage.
Now, the Father 
Who returns to me, kneeling in supplication, 
Yells,
“Get up! Climb, son, climb. Go find the path
To treasure granted by breath that fills lungs,
Breathe out songs only one Soul will echo,
Love that will be the melody of Life.”

Long Johns Conceal Love (for Bobby)

“Long johns, my friend, we need to put them on to stave the cold”
It feels colder these days than when as kids we built snowmen,
Rode our flexible flyer down the hill, brave and reckless, laughing.
We wake in the morning with stiff fingers and an unusual chill: 40?
New England would laugh a collective laugh at our need for layers.
Yet, here we are, in our pit, in our mire, seeking rock for our feet,
Fingers numb to the bone, the pain we feel hard to diagnose, known
Inside our souls, yet we only share part of the details, what our shame
Forgets to hide as we try and abate our shivering flesh, ripped away
From the bones that once held us upright and strong as we climbed
Back up the hill once our laughter filled the valley of drifted snow.
Are we far from those teenagers now? Without conviction I say yes.
Yet, the 17 year old looks down on me in my wasted state of weakness
And knows he is already the better man and turns to his mother to say
“I will be edgy and cool without a diploma.” “We have to watch over her.”
He doesn’t know about long johns or laughter in the snow drift valley.
The blades of the flexible flyer have rusted. My sins have overcome me.
I have become poor and needy, and look up to this little Lord, help me
Do not delay your thoughts, chill climbing my bones needs a blanket.
Do not conceal your love, cover me up, so that all might see mercy.

I believe this was a collaboration between me and Christine Ray, or maybe it was just something she said that prompted this piece, either way. She deserves her usual credit for her faith in me, for her faith in my words, and for just being a general Badass.

Spend some time with her and her amazing network of beautiful writers!
leap in:
The Path My Feet Must Follow

Image: Vineyards and Snow, by Julian Merrow-Smith
Postcard from Provence: a daily painting blog, fresh daily since 2005

You’ll Never Be Alone (for Bobby)

Son
Today with oil, water and breath
I watched the priest
Open the soul of a boy
To God.

As
Mine
Was
A long time ago
And many sins past.

Now, let’s watch the gulls
Take flight from the bay
And ask them
What water tastes like in the rain
And ask them
What air feels like in the wind.

But until:
Your mother’s arms will hold you.
Strong arms.
They’ll support you wherever you fly.

I’ll be here watching the gulls
Listening to the sea’s song
Singing along with words made up
From scattered broken shells
And worn out stones
Awaiting you.

I will drip the oil
I will share my water
I will breathe for you
Until you fly back
Into my arms

And open
Up
My soul
Once again.
Son.

My reading:

Last year I ran a series of poems in response to songs by my favorite band, The National, never finishing their back-catalog. To rectify this situation, I turn to their under-rated self-titled album and perhaps their most beautiful song: “Son”. My response is dedicated to my oldest child and is titled after the line, “You’ll never be alone”.

Please enjoy.

The song:

The lyrics

Son
Songwriters: Aaron Dessner / Bryan Devendorf / Matthew Berninger / Scott Devendorf

And if you follow me, son
The wind’ll wrap around you
Carry you from the ground
You will never be alone

Your weight will turn to sunlight
That’s falling on a girl
You’re still inside the world

She’s reading books from empty women
They’re giving beauty tips from empty hips

[Chorus]
And how is the water of the rain
And how is the air of the wind
And how are the arms of your mother
She’s holding you in

Watch them as they try to fly their kites inside their bedrooms
That were only built for drinking
Your thoughts, they never lasted long when you were under the sky
Above it you can hold a thought forever

[Chorus] x2
She’s holding you in
She’s holding you in

Son lyrics © BMG Rights Management US, LLC