I used to pluck dandelions
to weave into a braid, secret joy
taught to me by Carol next door -
how to glean yellow bursts of petals
from the field out back, then hide,
in the meadow-centered strand of trees
so the other boys wouldn’t see us.
We’d carefully fold the hollow green stems
into interlocking chains, fearful of breaking
them before completing the crowns
we longed to lift to our heads.
a car horn honking in the distance,
or shouts from a marauding gang
of project boys, surprised us to stillness.
It wasn’t fear, really, but loss of that
uninterrupted silence, sphere of calm
warmed by the sibilance of breathing
that almost slid into a kiss.
Outside, the bells from the cathedral toll.
Trucks gutter through alleys. Brakes squeal.
Closer, dishes clang and chink in the cafe
kitchen. Children whine and shuffle.
But it’s the beep of a message, a post,
an incoming email, the interruption of
- Where are you? What are you doing?-
that trips me to Jack-tumbling down
from the hillside where I’m still
gathering flowers. I roll into a wall,
a room I’m expected to inhabit,
leave behind the carefully woven
and already wilting crown.
Recovering: Bristol, U.K. 2015
I begin to recognize the oblations;
the city gull roostering the morning;
that beige pigeon, beautiful mongrel,
iridescent neck, sand-barred body pierced
by white tail, cooing from the fire escape
outside my window; the way the wind bends
the trees on the hill, allows them to sway back
as if for breath, bends them again, opens their white
underleaves like a lover’s hands ruffling hair askew.
Children squabble and squeal at the playground.
Traffic clears and reclears its phlegmy throat.
I am becoming familiar once more with the sun,
the way it pushes its fingers through the clouds
as they fold and roll over the rows of milk jug chimneys.
How it dives to create gold slides on the hoods and roofs
of cars stuttering through stoplights. It fingers aside
my curtains, beckons me out of bed. I dress,
walk down the stairs, huff to the top of Brandon Hill
wait for the laughter of strangers - this day three girls
and their Mum, walking a juvenile bulldog who rushes
to dive into a boggy pool, paddles around then out,
and trots off, black coat splotched with green
jewels of blanket weed.
I am becoming familiar with my own breath;
deflating release into the cloud-crossed sky,
opening my lungs as I draw it back to me.