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Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Magical Journey

A summer evening on the porch

it was too early for twilight,
yet the early summer evening
had already set the scene
to prickle the conscience
of the day to wane away
and leave a pinkish grey,
and the birds twittered their last
as if in search of a valuable prize;
to set a meal for crying chicks,
or bed down in the night's disguise,

and you had come to me
hurt, falling with a broken wing,
fluttering as though relying
on the kindness of a stranger --
we had a little wine,
and you used a favoured phrase
to elicit an offer
that I would listen to your thoughts,
which had spent so many nights
sleeping rough on the ancient flagstones
of a mind under siege
from sticks and stones;

so I obliged; we sat on my rickety old porch
and listened to the crickets sing
to each other in their summer fling,
and you looked at me
as though I could make you happy,
or make your dreams come true,
I'm going to draw a line,
you said, looking as though I
should reach out to touch you,
but your fingers had already
divided the ground in two, hands catching
splinters of old porch wood
instead of your thoughts or me --

and you let your voice go
into a silence that grew
into a cold embrace, too cold for the heat
of the wine or summer night, so I talked of hardship
that only heightened the delight
of the generosity of others,
but you stared at me
as though I was a distant horizon
toiling up or down the precipitous cliffs
of some foreign land;

you don't understand,
you replied, you don't understand at all,
your hands shook, signalling me over
to your next port of call, I feel like drawing a line,
to keep all those evil people
on the opposite of me, and
you've got to be on my side
you had repeated desperately,
and I saw in your eyes
how they had hurt you so,
and my heart ached like
a passion in its early years
that there had been no one there
to dry your tears,

I wondered what I could say,
but felt like a little boy
with nothing but words
collected along a less travelled way
in his pockets -- should I throw them
as food crumbs for you
to find the way back to me
and this old porch and hot summer night? --
I thought, but knew really
that this would never do,
you wanted me to protect you,
to lay off the siege in your mind,
to agree with you, even if only to be kind,

and I tried to tell you people needed
no lines to be drawn for self-protection, or
sides to be marked and taken
when we meant so much more, and I asked you
to forgive the pettiness of people,
to make no boundaries in the fight against evil,
for it would only make us
become less not more
when taking a final stand;

but I couldn't make you
understand the danger of dangling
helplessly, hung too high
on a foolish principle
that won't let you by, or be separated by
lines drawn too hastily
which make no attempt to try
and reconcile people;

you don't understand,
you had said again, please understand me,
and I had nodded my head gently
as though I could agree
to what you said -- I didn't want to leave you
forsaken or wanting to mourn
the day coming to an end and
the loss of a good friend instead --
so I let the truth walk away, noticed
how its image faded in the sway
of the impatient summer evening
as the song of the crickets grew
louder, and the shadows ever bolder,

I gave you a simpler melody
to be strong, that I'd always fight
for your side -- even in your wrong --
that I would hang
out to dry with you, or quietly sing with you
in the long summer nights to come,
and I told you that I'd never leave you
sitting alone on a porch imposing
with a splintered hand, bleeding
out the unfairness of some,

and in an attempt to try
and save you, I described how friendship
is a magical journey, sometimes uplifting,
sometimes getting you nowhere,
but a place where we can slow down
our lives and unwind long enough to listen,
to reinforce a faith in human nature,
just like a humble prayer asking
to win one small victory
for humankind's future,
always trying to make us better --

and you had smiled suddenly,
thinking my descriptions crazy,
but you sipped your wine
and looked wild and free,
and I knew then my friend that you had shrugged
off your enmity, you had come
back to the evening, you had come
back to me, and left those more petty
to draw their lines and uselessly throw
their sticks and stones -- while we
continued on a more magical journey.

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