When he was a little boy … Elliott’s 15th-birthday poem

When he was a little boy
he’d whisper
in his mother’s ear

(Do you remember?)

Standing close, beside her chair,
softly,
so no one could hear.

“Tell them yourself!”
his mom would urge,
when he’d whisper
in her ear.

But he’d just shake
his auburn curls,
softly,
so no one could hear.

Now he is a grown up boy,
standing tall and speaking loud.

He does interesting things
that get him noticed in a crowd!

Teaching tiny kids to ski,
sometimes he has to speak up loud.

And it’s not just anybody
who can play keyboard
for a Blues Fest crowd!

He’s a nice lad to be around,
standing tall and speaking loud.

And when his parents look at him
you can tell
they are so proud.

But

we do miss that little boy,
speaking so no one can hear.

We like to think
he’s in there still,
whispering
in his big boy’s ear.

~~~

To hear this poem read aloud, play the Evernote audio file

August Rain

The year has turned
to the round month,
the orange one,

month of steam and droning bees,
time when we first remember
the end is tumbling near.

Green and yellow hang in the air
and we bask in the sun’s fullness
like sweet, plump raisins

curving toward a scarcer heat,
the crust of summer
sun-buttered and baked to a crisp sheen.

Some mornings, mist hangs so heavy
a solitary heron blends with the water’s edge,
grey

into grey.
This afternoon, thunder strikes a pose,
proves itself rain’s herald

and swallows the sun. Rain pours heavy
along the river. Later, in the opening air,
thick with humidity and a soft

elegance,
leaves drip with relief and a deeper green
moves from the centre of things

to hover at the edge
of the trees’ dark spaces. Silence
moves aside for the first bird.

 

“August Rain” first published in Economies of Gratitude by Ellen Symons. Penumbra Press 2007

~~~

Sadness, I instruct you

For my dear friend

And now, sadness,
I instruct you
to be still.

Let these bones rest. Marrow
pale and depleted by memory
and forgiveness,
they are weary and cannot stand your shaking.

Let the exhausted heart
encased in this bombarded cage beneath my skin

jarred by your gnashing and clamouring

float in the buoyancy of you forgetting

for a moment

to squeeze it dry.

Do not bewilder
me with your wailing.

Now I tell you:
Let me be.

~~~

Five Reasons to Love the Long Nights of Winter

This poem is one I wrote maybe a decade ago, but it still expresses something important to me about the beauty, peace, and comfort of this time of year.

Unwind.com

After a bright afternoon’s quickening light
To be cradled by dusk,
Its slowly sit-down darkening

To contemplate the softening outline of the old cat
Curled warm on your grey-trousered lap

To watch the women and men with briefcases and backpacks
Walk from the bus toward darkened houses

To see a glow appear here or there and know
The tired homecomings have begun

To unravel the mysteries of your heart
That can only be glimpsed when the busy sun
Pulls up its thick shadows
And the arms of the evening encompass all

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Ark

All night the wind filled with snow howls against our walls.
What happens to the animals,
or people still outside
I do not know.

Small ship on a vast ocean our house sails alone through the gale.
Carries us fretting to the borders of morning,
the furnace and the radio
land ahoy.

~~~

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