Something About Hope, Time and Brown Eyes

I keep this picture of myself,
from sometime during the 70’s,
a smiling kid, brown eyes
gleaming with hope, black hair
covering my ears and shoulders.
In it, I am a young man of my time
and my time was Now.

The other day I was shown
another head shot of a guy
I wasn’t sure I wanted to know.
His was hair thin and silver,
some growing ON his ears or
fallen upon his shoulders.
He appeared a man old
before his time,
which he prays isn’t now.

Through the bottom of my bifocals
I peered into the dark caves
beneath his patchy gray brows.
There I saw something like
a glimmer in his brown eyes
and I recognized it as Hope,
which knows not Time.
And was thankful Time
can never dim true Hope.

My catch-up poem for Day 2 of the PAD Challenge, which was prompted by the word portrait. Any resemblance to actual old poets, living or dead, is purely coincidental…and poor editing.

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Memory of Snow, Rain and Fog

At his post by the window, he sees them at dawn,
the seasonal habitués who usually sojourn here
in March or so. Three sisters, the triad manifestations
of water have come calling early and he must greet them.

Before him lies one in the form of snow,
once solid and grounded, as was he back when.
On its face it holds the story of lives and deaths,
writ in foot prints and a splotch of red.
Crows have punctuated, in deep black holes,
the final chapters of some prey left by a coyote,
while squirrels dot chains of ellipses,
linking forgotten conversations from tree to tree.

The grand smudge above cries tears like April’s,
falling from the heavens’ gray cheeks,
which float always beyond the reach of empathetic oaks,
who sag in solicitous sadness under the weight
of the skies’ drops of yet unknown future tales.
The rains wash away some of snow’s chronicle
of one year’s death and another’s birth,
like history rewritten by some usurping un-worthy.

And, between heaven and earth, glides water’s
nebulous self, a chilling fog, translucent and clean.
It smears the known, rendering the familiar
not quite so accurate, like the passage of time
does an old man’s memory. It will leave his cheeks
shining and damp, as if his crying has ended,
though he knows it’s only abated. It crawls up
and nests in the trees, as would his younger self.

That he plainly sees, as he slops back to the house,
where it’s warm and dry and his family will tsk-tsk
him about walking in weather like this.
But he stares out the window, wondering how long
until what’s left of his sojourn will dissolve,
blown away in blizzards of white, lost in
foggy gray memories, and punctuated by a grand black
!”

Too long away from inspiration and creativity. As has often been the case, if not sleep, then weather provides impetus to get back into this hard-backed saddle. Photo © 2018, Joseph Hesch. You know, me.

The Beard

I found it while culling old photos
that no one need keep — nor even see —
once I’m gone. It shows dark-haired me,
clear-eyed, smiling, hopeful, happy me.
At least I think it might be me,
despite that captured joy and smoothness.
The other reason I’m somewhat unsure of
the subject’s identity is because
the young fellow in these photos has
longish hair and a pretty nice beard.
A full beard, on a face shining with optimism,
even if it is out-of-focus.
I placed the photo in the bottom
of a shoebox in the closet with
the full-length mirror on the door.
The mirror that shows the image of
the silver-haired guy whose mouth sags
on the left side when he attempts to smile,
as if he’s afraid his face might slough off
the front of his head if he gave in
to full expressions of joy.
That’s the mirror where I stare into
the pair of burrows where nest the windows
of my soul. Deep within, it’s like I
can see inside the shoebox behind the door.
I still wonder what happened to that youngster,
but I at least know I can still find him.

Playing in the Twilight

My childhood was rather short,
being the oldest of our brood.
I learned about duty and care
of kids while still a kid, too.
I had a gray-bearded soul
from my childhood until now,
when I’ve taken the baton from
middle age’s aching hands to begin
this next circle of existence,
they call senior citizenship.
But my soul isn’t interested
in trotting the anchor leg of life.
It hears sounds like children playing,
drawing it off this rutted cinder oval
to traipse cross country and enjoy
what it missed while Life whizzed by
and I stayed in my lane, pumping
like a piston, in a ’52 Chevy.
Yesterday, I picked up a basketball
and played a game of 1-on-0 like
the kids always did. I crossovered Life,
let one go, swishing it and thought,
“How great is this game!”

Hesperides in Gold Leaf

During summers on the lake,
I’d leave the family back
at the trailer after dinner—
because I was a big kid now,
almost 12—and walk to the beach.
The sun would be sagging
in its evening ease, casting
golden flakes upon the chop.
Over the next hour they’d melt
into orange, purple and red
slicks upon the quieting surface,
like a lake-wide gasoline slick
from some grand mahogany runabout
christened Hesperides in gold leaf
on her stern. The sun sinking behind
the pines gave the sky a black eye,
and I’d skip a stone along the surface
to shatter the image of the moon
in the southeast corner of this mirror
of my youth called Snyder’s Lake.
Tonight, as I watched alone the sunset
behind the pines back of my house,
the memory of that bruised sky
hit me in the eye. Must have been
a speck of dust, too, because
I’m a big guy now, almost 65,
and why else would I get teary?

Another First December Snow

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The first December snow
came upon us overnight,
laying its frozen breath
upon the grass, turning
car roofs into smooth igloos warmed
by internal combustion engines.
I decided to let it rest
upon the driveway, delaying rising
from my chair to remove it.
Neither of us were in any hurry
to move, let alone remove.
Sometimes it feels like
I’ve reached the first week
of my life’s December, the sun
not rising as high as it once did,
its days shorter, nights longer
and my body colder in the lee
of these long shadows cast
o’er top of me. They conceal
the imprinted memories of what
lies behind me, this anti-snow
broadening its lightless view
of a trail ahead without footprints
to leave or follow, only a hope
that somewhere beyond is yet
another first spring rain –another
chance to splash in its puddles
like a child once more.

Photo © Joseph Hesch 2016. It’s by the author from his writing aerie above the back forty, where he contemplates his past, present and future in all-day twilight today.

Turning the Leaves in My Garden of Days

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Spring’s spring long ago sprung,
the bounce and suppleness
either stiffened or sagging.
It’s a most discouraging disparity
at 6:00 AM, when the gales blow
from the alarm clock and
my limbs and branches creak and
crack as my windward changes to lee.
Now summer’s vibrant verdant life’s
fading to some sere shade of sand,
as if dribbled from and hourglass,
with each later and later sunrise.
The grass and leaves lean toasted
and curved in this oven of latter years.
Even the weeds, habitual and
nagging as they be, have passed
into some crusty form, as if pressed
between the pages of my book of days.
They’re all just reminders
of where I stand today in this garden
I’ve sown, tended, ignored,
forgotten and now chronicle its
changes with sunset’s scarred and
wrinkled hindsight from a window
above it all. Still above it all.

A birthday poem, written in the aerie seat where I still can soar, one more year closer to being definitively old.