Richibi’s Weblog

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Month: October, 2013

beyond Alice

                                       for Yolande

 
we had been talking, a friend and I, about
ashes – after, of course, my tale of Hawaii,
and my sacred purpose there with my
friend Greg around the memory of his
nephew and parents – the preparations
necessary to effect a smooth
transmission from one’s demise to final
disposition, a somber thought for many, 
but quite irreversible however, and better
sooner than too late, when bureaucratic
considerations inexorably and
inappropriately apply 
 
to do so had been for her a last-minute
thing, earlier too stark, invisible,
unconsidered, but a comfort, she said,
ultimately, for the process had thus  
itself become invisible, seamless, upon
a call the service duly submitted to her
particular wishes, of allowing her to sit by
the body till just before dawn, to avoid the
crush of the suddenly bristling morning,
and the probable indiscretions against
the solemnity of the night 
 
she remembered how she had herself
reverently cast her own husband’s
ashes, told me she had kept some
should she find somewhere else
another garden than the one she
tended now should she ever want
to wander
 
I spoke of my own ashes, others’ ashes  
 
 
she had with her husband cast those
of a sole remaining aunt of an afternoon,
from a rock on the seashore as the tide
moved in and out, feasting on sandwiches
and wine, I had seen dolphins dance out
on the ocean when I’d done something
similar myself around other ashes
 
a boy, a gay guy, she said came walking
before them on the same beach later,
earlier, I can’t remember
 
what do you mean gay, how did you
know that, I defensively countered
 
he was walking between two elderly
ladies, she answered without a beat
as though I hadn’t interrupted, holding
a tea service, complete with silverware,
china and napkins
 
I was glad I’d asked, I thought her 
conclusion incontrovertible
 
her husband thought they’d entered 
Alice’s wondrous rabbit hole, I thought
he couldn’t’ve been far off  
 
they asked 
 
the two ladies were his aunts, he replied, 
come over from England to commemorate
their sister, his mom  
 
this wasn’t at all a rabbit hole, I thought,
but somewhere immeasurably finer, holier,
transcendent, they would be offering her 
remains piecemeal to the rose garden,
there by the water in the sunlight on the
lawn, shaping sweetly their own ideas of 
what lay beyond
 
I’d heard utterly, of course, and ineluctably
there a poem 
 
my friend replenished our wine
 
we recalled our own departed spirits    
  
 
Richard  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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“our best conversations are in our sleep” – the great power

on intimacy
 
 
 

          i was having a dream he said
          you and i were walking in a city where we had never been
          it’s still there somewhere
          i’m going back to find it
          then he pulled my whole body closer
          as much of my skin as his could touch
          and slipped away

                                        the great power 

Richard

 

blog alert: “Wild & Precious Life”

wherein Wild & Precious Lifedescribes herself 

 
     “My love for poetry is simple but at the same time, hard to
      explain. I was drawn to it from an early age however, with
      questionable motives. In my young eyes, the appreciation
      of poetry personified sophistication, poise and intelligence.
      And so I became that nine year old reciting lines from Dylan
      Thomas poems even though I had yet to live enough life to
      truly understand the deeper themes. But I continued my
      poetry admiration, convinced that I looked wise beyond
      my years. Believe me,  the irony of it is not lost on me now……
 
      And then those life experiences that one needs to truly
      understand poetry came knocking, and at times pounding
      on my door. Some were welcomed but many were not, but
      with them came my true love of poetry.
 
      I now read poetry for a simple and unequivocal reason – it
      makes me feel connected to something tangible but at the
      same time larger than myself. When I am sad, overwhelmed,
      lost, lovelorn, confused, I turn to it. I’ll read a beautiful
      composition of words and suddenly realize that I am not
      the first or last person to feel such things and that calms me,
      gives me hope and makes me feel gratitude.
 
      That having been said, this website is a simple collection of
      beautiful words. They are poems, quotes, lyrics and excerpts
      that have resonated with me. They are words that have made
      me smile, laugh, cry and sometimes simply take pause. I hope
      you enjoy the website, lovingly titled [Wild & Precious Life] –
      the closing lines of [Mary Oliver’s The Summer Day]: 
 
 
                  Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
                            Tell me, what is it you plan to do
                  with your one wild and precious life?
 
                                 ___________________
 
 
 
what I needed to reply
 
 
      coming from a small town in the middle of
      nowhere, I aspired even then to discover
      what the rest of the world was thinking,
      admired, why had literary giants become
      legends, even archetypes, what were the
      parameters 
 
      poetry ever however seemed especially
      sterile, odes, for goodness’ sake, on 
      Grecian urns, I ask you, I, a budding
      person before the unfolding world
 
      abstract art too was pretty questionable, 
      though I persisted, diligently probing 
      afield for convincing, manifest, arguments,
      the world couldn’t be so wrong
 
      until here and there a bud would blossom,
 
      I now read poetry just to find out what
      other hearts are thinking    
 
      some say quite wonderful things   
   
 
      ever the best 
 
      Richard 
 
      psst:  I’ve subscribed, by the way, to your 
              Wild and Precious adventure
 
               many thanks
  
 
 
Richard
 
 
 
 

this is a love poem

from the lip of Diamond Head we’d be able
to see right down to Jevon’s pier, Greg said,
in a moment that seemed to him inspired
when he grasped it right out of the corner
of the room right in front of me, as I sat 
there on the bed pondering options
 
a trip around Oahu, our first and only other
choice, would’ve been expensive, even
excessive, and I’d already been around the
island before, which rendered moot the idea
that he’d offered with great gallantry, that for
me it would be a novelty, something I’d never
done, to add texture to our mission
 
instead of Rome at the last minute that trip
had seemed too impracticable, presenting
too many daunting obstacles  
 
I’d asked for an alternative, and right there,
again like an inspiration, he said Hawaii,
this time across from me on my sofa
 
 
Hawaii had seemed completely improbable
to me, and somewhat disrespectful at first,
but then Greg spoke of Jevon’s pier, Jevon,
his nephew, had died ten years earlier,
tragically, and way too young, and his
parents had scattered his ashes there,
a place Jevon loved, and to which his
folks returned every fall to winter
 
the death of Jevon had been Greg’s first
experience of death, its impact had not
receded, like love the experience of
death is indelible, and, of course,
transformative
 
 
Jevon’s mother had demurred at the
idea of superimposing even her own
parents’ ashes, when Greg inquired,
needing a form of absolution for what
he would have be a solemn act, over
the place where she’d thrust to heaven
her only son’s
 
her husband seems to have borne the
burden much more stoically, eschewing,
apparently, the need for metaphor
and rituals 
 
to Greg and I, the would-be pilgrims, her
wishes, their wishes, would be paramount
 
and any consecration cannot be blurred
by imprecision, or slight 
 
 
the first day we went to Jevon’s pier, at the
far end of Waikiki, beneath Diamond Head,
where the beach front becomes more
residential, Greg found the very spot where
he’d sat, cried, remembered with his sister
 
and the two of us facing east dipped our
feet in the ocean that spread to the distant
blue horizon, and beyond there to what we
could no longer imagine 
 
but we imagined nevertheless, and believed, 
that Jevon was there 
 
Greg had brought a couple of white
symbolic feathers, one for each of us,
to cast upon the waves in commemoration,
we read poems, we watched the feathers
drift to where we could no longer spot
them, the froth of lazy waves lapped at
our toes like kisses, I thought, from, of
course, God
    
 
Diamond Head might seem ovious now,
but there it wasn’t, though the elements
might’ve seemed to be all crying out for 
it 
 
Greg heard
 
I thought the idea resplendent
 
from Diamond Head these ashes, his
grandparents’, would look upon Jevon’s 
pier, like elders forever watching over
their child, Jevon would play, swim,
cavort, under their watchful gaze
forever and ever      
 
 
 
Diamond Head is apparently the remains
of an extinct volcano that created the
island of at least Oahu, other volcanos, I
suppose, created the several surrounding
others, the mouth of the crater is now a
tourist attraction, the front lip, the one
facing Honolulu and its beach, Waikiki,
is the highest part of the mountain, we
would be climbing there, reaching the
base by bus, then walking all the way
back
 
I am not wont to climb mountains, though
Greg averred that when he lived there he’d
climbed it several times, though we were
both much younger then
 
 
he sprang up the rocks like a billy goat, I
puffed, paused a lot, and panted, but would
not have not continued the trek though my
life depended on it, there are some things I
will not not
 
 
some showers softened our journey up,
like kisses again, I thought, a respite from
the teeming sun, and here and there a
playful and welcome and soothing breeze 
 
the tip was astounding, with a view of the
entire island, and the entire blue Pacific
lying before us 
 
 
any place of consecration must be sacred,
unhurried, private if not unpeopled, and
reasonably quiet, though thunder and
lightning, natural occurrences, don’t
count    
 
there’d been showers, nothing at all
threatening, and Greg had needed time
to unseal both urns, small decorative
pots that had sat patient on his mantel,
lit by candlelight, until this journey
 
I’d staked out a position at the very
edge of the mountain, a railing kept
us from straying dangerously too far 
 
I poured his mother’s ashes into his
cupped hands when he asked, held
on to the warm still, though empty
now, urn, he closed his hands upon 
this dust with the trust that this was
indeed his mother 
 
noises about, people too close for
undisturbed comfort, held his palms
shut, savouring, I thought, opportunely,
her remaining parts, but discreetly, for
it had to be done, letting drift some of
their powder through fingers that
sensed surely their embedded
memories   
 
then all was gone  
 
 
he’d had to smash his father’s urn to
get it open, it cracked into two parts
like a broken egg, some ash had fallen
to the ground, he dusted it up, picked
some up that could be returned to the
broken vessel  
 
I thought, it is all dust, it will all go
nevertheless to the earth
 
I held the broken bits while Greg prepared
his father’s ashes
 
 
but I couldn’t any longer properly see, the
shower had become no longer kisses but
drops that confounded my glasses, a mist
clouding further what I could see, God was
speaking to Moses on the mountain 
 
Greg cast his fist in the direction of the gust,
opened his palm, and let the rush of charged
particles furl into a darker knot, like swallows
during murmuration, then dispel like a vision 
into the indiscriminate other
    
 
later he cast the urns to a similar fate, and
a little plaster angel with a picture of his
mom on the back, the date, and probably
something endearing 
 
 
as we scuttled down the mountain jauntily,
cleansed, a mission faithfully and reverently
accomplished, the sun returned
 
on the way back I even looked for shade
 
 
Richard
 
psst: you might’ve wondered, how was I there,
        I am a friend, he’d asked