Orion straddles the rooftops

The underside of night
and I am throwing away boxes
that held pieces of my old life

and there you are,
as I’m tiptoeing back from the dumpster
careful to hop over the puddles that gather
to the terra cotta steps that lead me to new.

You are straddling the rooftops
bringing to me a punchy light
watching me as I stare up into your vulnerability.

Now you are the action hero
sandwiched between two buildings
risking your life to save the victim

Now you are the kitchen maiden
holding up her skirts as she walks to the privy
squatting over dignity

Now you are the normal
the everyday warrior

toppled from your pedestal stamp on the sky
shoehorned into the sliver I can see.

Now you are again my Orion

a constant backdrop to my altars
a wink to the fathers of my youth

peeking in to check on me
and watching as I stare into my vulnerability.

The swingset

Unable to resist
the crunch of the mulch
the slinky whisper of stones
or the coughing of sand
beneath my feet.

Unable to resist
the chapped lips and chafed hands
the rusted stink and slivers of wear
the chain link of swing and rubberband seat

Unable to resist
the reach of shoes to sun
the ignorance of gravity and gloat
watching the uncemented posts of the swingset float

Unable to resist
the back and forth
the universe showing me off like a yo-yo
practicing me to go “around the world”
but stuck on “walk the dog”
and “you are getting very sleepy”

When I was swinging at 7
I used to wonder about someone else
swinging just like me
at just this moment
at just this point in the world reversed

I now walk to each pair of swings
and look for the holes in the mulch where the set would come apart
and wake the world to my knowledge
that it was me I was wondering
me who would be swinging just like me
at just this moment

unable to resist
that the world reversed
was just a reflection
of time.

Unspoken Altar

I’ve pulled from your memory before.

The underside of age weeping into a word pile,
and your image coined in repetition of a phrase I cannot remove
from my psyche.

Today is not a day for the belly of death,

I recall instead your birthday. One unfamiliar
to my word paintings, as this month is wont to do.

The overshadow of Christmas creating more obligation in these days
than it ever would in any other month.

I want to apologize to you for that.

The fault of family often lending itself to louder
the lack of “look at me” in your demeanor
has gone unnoticed by me too long.

The rustling of the plastic sack
where you often held the bounty of your trips
where my greedy child fingers grasped

and a singsong thank you volleyed half at your face

before I ran off, your smile reaching the small of my back
instead of my eyes.

I want to apologize to you for that.

Tomorrow will be the day before another obligatory holiday
but I am now smiling in secret with you
at the younger me we both knew.