Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Poem for Cassandra, September 18, 2013

Poem for Cassandra

        All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses,
        And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.
                    -- Walt Whitman

At the end of another August,
maple leaves flutter
in a welcome breeze,
sighing shade in soft smiles
over the sidewalks,
over the mown lawns and gleaming dogs,
proud on the ends of their leashes,
over the neighbor
who pinches a last delicate rose
from its thorny stem,
over children who dive and swoop
across the grass
like sparrows,
still free
but smelling the hot start
of September
with its chalky classrooms,
their arithmetic drone
like the buzz
of a thousand bees.

In this drowsy comfort,
we might feel the shape
of your body’s absence --

a delicate silhouette,
a sudden shadow
in the shape of an angel,
slipping past overhead --

we might feel the shape of your absence
and shiver,
imagining the human things
you might now be doing …

Like reading a French novel
in your backyard,
and sipping a glass of iced tea,
or sitting at a table in a sunny café
in some foreign country
where time is a bit thicker
and words fall more slowly,
leaning forward to laugh
with a friend,
the sound rising up
like white wings,
so that the woman sitting by herself
next to the window
looks up at you
and smiles,
bathed in that light.

These dreams of you in your body
are beautiful and sad,
like the mellow end of summer
stretched in tree shadows
across our gardens --

but only for us,
still bound to a single time and place,
still tied
to the crushing wheel of time,
to loneliness and anger
and falling out of love,
to the inevitable disappointment
that collects as dust
on all of our human possessions.

You, after all,
are still beautiful
and never sad.  

You are everything
and everywhere
all at once –

You are silver and gold and rubies,
you are laughter
and velvet grass underfoot --
you are peony petals beaded with rain
and a whisper
that tickles the ear,

you are swans and dancers
and poets in parks,
you are rivers feeding the oceans,
and clouds shaped like goldfish,

you are snowfall glittering in cherry orchards,
and tulip bulbs
keeping their secrets
under February’s freeze.

You are your father’s smile,
your mother’s grace,
your sisters’ and brother’s clear eyes.

You are dreams and memories and songs
floating through our minds
like breath,

and you are the hands that have touched you,
and the spirits you’ve shaped –

You are the bricks and glass and mortar
in this building,
and you are the thousands
who will laugh and love
inside it –

You are the space above us
and the ground beneath us –
the very air contains you

and yet

you are free,
you exceed us,

like a million years of starlight
stretching forwards
and backwards --
the purest love
we can never
fully imagine.

                September 18, 2013
                Laurie MacDiarmid

1 comment:

Denise Lattos said...

Absolutely beautiful! Thank you for sharing your talent and capturing the impact Cassie has on us.