the guest (a poem for august)

the guest (a poem for august) August 17, 2016


Another summer now prepares to take her leave, all grains and grasses golden,

in her fine hat as she waves to us, heading westward with the sun, a happy lady on a train –

the rest of us earth-bound, staid, dust on our shoes. And once again, I’ve failed to find

whatever it was I hoped to find, she’s forgotten once again to whisper in my ear the secret

that was promised, mislaid the map she should have given me, the one with the

sketch of the old oak tree split by the storm, the ripples on the water, the X

that marks the spot. Or perhaps I heard wrong. I’m quite sure I was attentive that

long-lost day, some July or August back in the mists of early time, when I strode up

whistling from the pine woods and saw a copperhead coiled suave on the dry grass,

or perhaps it was a talking cat perched on a gate, something said to me: wait.

Just wait. Something fabulous is coming, something intricate as fretted stars on a jeweled crown,

as fireflies in the dusk, something joyful as running horses or clear water.


What’s come since then?

I’ve harvested the good and bad together, the ripe tomatoes and the bitter gourds,

I’ve seen the earth drink still the blood of innocents, wars still raging, genocides,

children struck down by bullets, viruses busily transmuting, traveling –

I’ve found much wonder and some shame, but I think I got the message wrong,

I think perhaps there was nothing I was meant to wait for, but only the spare moments

dropping like dew in the morning, moments for courage, or justice, or perhaps

only moments for preparing bread and salt,

moments for turning the soil, planting, saving the seeds.

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