“Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a nervous system disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. No one knows its cause. Onset typically begins between the ages of 20 and 40. Some people lose the ability to write, speak, or walk.” —U.S. National Library of Medicine
Another blessing. Another gray rain. All day yesterday it fell and fell. The sky never changed. It stayed the same. White grim gray. It was hard to tell what was cloud and what was light, what was water, what was sun. Day slunk slowly into night. And once again it’s begun. I drove my car to the hospital. The narrow halls were white grim gray. The doctor acted cheerful despite the words she had to say. I sat beside my grown young son and hoped for blessing. There was none.
Along the Beaver Creek, lobelia clings to the soil, foiling its every effort to sneak into the stream, which riffles over rocks below, aerating the water that fuels the wetland where a dragonfly squints its blue, bulbous eyes, spying mosquitoes mating, then steers its body to reach their next move. Do you dare, while traipsing this trail and glancing milkweed blossoms, to covet anything your neighbor may have?
Six months later, and a mile away, on a lime-dusted field, a singular tree, its leaves shorn and humming in wind somewhere south, waits. Winter will bear a crop of snow, which will deepen with the season and wrap around the stoic oak. No one will amble by for months. Driving by, will you sing your praise purely from the road’s safe distance?
In between, where there is so much time, when inspiration won’t spread its wings and raise its crimson head,
when nothing but mud dominates the wetland, when tarnished tin is the only color the sky can muster,
what then? Will you savor the age-old scent of the now-and-not-yet, sense its tension in the toppled tree, damp and fungus festooned,
These waters, I must trouble for myself, in an age of the absence of angels, as I plunge, first of the day to break the lambent surface of the pool, and commence my daily reaching after miracles, swimming laps at almost eighty-one. The miracle I seek these recent years has been defined, and then refined, by that old friendly temporizer, “yet”; no longer seeking not-to-die-at-all, just not-to-die-quite-yet, to win a couple bonus years, in which to pen another poem or two, to pile a few more chosen words onto this heap I have—for Oh so long—been working on. Any healing that might come will clearly have to be short term. Until, that is, I reach the final turn, take up my beggar’s bed, and walk.
Saw two eagles swirling and dogging each other Over the river yesterday—courting or fighting— And not even the most veteran and experienced Observer could ever tell which it is they were at. There’s some deep crucial true thing to say here About loving and fighting, yes? You feel it too? But I am not quite sure what it is. All I can do is Point to the two eagles and say see what I mean? That’s what a poem is, it seems to me; a poem is A way to point at something we get but can’t say. So there are the eagles saying something graceful And painful and amazing. What is it? Exactly so.