Almost Nine

Today is the final day he is almost nine.
As I worried he might,
he holds my hand less often.

The world pushes in on us;
the spaces in which we can hide –
just the two of us –
are more difficult to find,
simpler to disrupt.

Yet on this day,
his brother and sister
already gone from the table,
he pauses at my shoulder.

Even as I pull him onto my lap,
I expect him to continue on
to his book or simply something else;

but he sits
and softens.

Later, in the quiet of a too-late night
my wife whispers to me,

you should have seen his face.

Newest poem in the Years series.

4:14 Home

Reading the master’s commentary strikes fear
I might not pass the koan
were it presented again,

so I look up from the text.

Scenery passes quickly
outside the window,
gathered collections and discarded remnants.

The train passes the same sights,
running on tracks
just twenty feet to the north
of the morning’s run –

only the light is different.

Streaked and Spotted

The kitchen window is streaked and spotted
on the outside from months-gone
summer rains.

The air has since turned frigid;
small birds flit & dance on the barren bush
just beyond the sill.

Inside, I stand resting
in the sun that streams through
just above the old porcelain sink.

The dishes there are finished
and last wisps of steam rise;
the children are occupied with holiday gifts

as I forget for a moment
that it isn’t all right.

Another notebook fragment from December finally coalesces.

I Walked in the Woods Today

I walked in the woods today
far under scattered clouds –
though it didn’t make me a boy again.

No dog by my side
circling ahead and back,
no sense of wonder at where I might emerge.

Patches of snow from an indecisive December
lay astride the path and filled in hollows.

Straining for the distant sound
of my mother’s voice
calling me in from play,
I heard only birds calling.

Nearly a month from moment to paper, when everything but renunciation seems a struggle.

Keep Me Company

Winter’s early cold has gathered
steam against the windows,
softening the lights’ reflection.

Standing in the doorway,
I strain above the hum of the dryer
to hear my son
as he narrates his play by whisper
in the old claw foot bathtub.

I should be helping him,
but he hasn’t noticed me there,
and the teacup is warm in my hands.

Finally he stills and calls to me — Dad?
I thought you were going to keep me company?

Of course I am.
Of course I am.