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Here you will find the writings of the poet Theodore Waterfield

Extinction

I live amid order.
Sanitary floors.
Washed windows.
Vanilla walls.
Houses,
where stone accumulate,
are torn down
when their purpose is over.
And the stories disappear.

Memory fades.
We become an antique presence
where we lived.
An artifact,
as a rock
around which tides swirl
in relentless time,
until we are washed away.

We did not change.
We liquidated.
Planted no seed,
no reply to destiny.
In our wake
an empty theater with no survivors,
no hand to turn off the lights
and honor the dead.

Picture of Chrysthanthemums and Its Artist

What are the chrysanthemums saying?
The flowers extend like an open palm
as if reaching.
What is the artist saying?
Whose fingers does he want
to touch his hand?
I see love, tenderness,
as if the blossoms are children
arranged in a delicate pose.

As if the artist is asking,
are they not heaven and earth?
A family that filled
the walls of his life.
Or the totality of the palm’s gesture
to someone he would never
touch again.
A death?
A fading catastrophe?
Or a child lost,
disappeared into another life,
who he dreams of,
listening to his stories,
racing after balls,
or roughhoused tenderly,
as father and son.

Something provocative lingers
in the picture.
Sublimity and sadness.
Is the secret in the chrysanthemums
his resignation,
his determination
not to lose what was wonderful
to his life?
A man who looks to the space
left at the end,
and he offers
the last thing he has,
the remains of the beautiful
inside him.

Reincarnation

The boy enters where he began.
He finds himself in a hall,
and calls out a name,
and the name falls from the air
like broken glass.
He turns into a room
and sits quietly listening to waves.
Where is the shore?
Where is the sand?
The clock on a table
shines like the moon,
but the hour it shows
melts in the shadows.
As if time grew old
and ended.

Doesn’t matter.
Everything that was to happen,
happened,
and he nods.
Why?
He doesn’t know.
It makes no difference,
unless,
the door opens across from him.
Where he was born.
Where he will be born,
if someone remembers.
Unlocks the entrance.
It all happened and he is old.

Why it would happen again
he doesn’t know,
except it might.
Except it will
if he cries,
and asks for one more time
to be in love,
alive,
and start over.

Ennui

A distraction,
everything a distraction,
in the shallowness of my heart.
Ennui,
a window’s reflection.
Sadness bored with itself.
Joy with frayed edges.
Overripe fruit.
The smell of old sausage.
Mildew on the cheese,
jejune people.

Then,
arriving in the car,
two thunderbolts.
Jackie twinkles like a flare,
a meteor about to fly.
Michael is a bird,
filling a whole valley
with his call,
and I am restored to joy,
to hope,
to catching butterflies
in a net,
finding bugs under rocks,
rescuing mountain goats
off a table.

Peeing,
running,
telling stories,
and feeding off the bounty
of the earth.
And light so fresh
it flashes into stars,
and ennui evaporates into air.

Privacy

Would they want me
to open their diaries, journals,
read their letters,
these people of this house?
The desk covered with forlorn light,
historical clocks, knickknacks.
Their souls in the drawers,
in the clothes hanging limp
in the closet.

What would I learn of them?
Should I excuse my curiosity?
I want something, but what?
Why my life is wandering among theirs?
How much should we know of anything?
Does God intrude?
Look behind doors at the struggling soul?

It is so hard,
an old woman might say,
to be spiritual,
to be good,
to live without guilt or regret.
And the man who loves her
would nod,
and go spade the garden.
She would go off to her poem,
to her letter,
fondle an old picture.

Do I want to know that?
What she thought?
It belongs to her life.
Perhaps even God turns away,
and in the Book of Judgment
leaves pages blank.
These are my children.
They are a part of me.
I respect their privacy.

If It Be Told

Every life is a forest.
Dense in places.
Open spots.
Sunlight falling through a canopy.
Tasks, people,
children never growing old,
voices filling the silence
inside ourselves.
How many pages fill a life?

The story of life is immense.
To write down a day
could take a year.
A life runs so hot,
moves so fast.
Archipelagoes are formed and flooded,
sunsets fall at different sites.
The synopsis of dreams
is bigger than the book.
What has God wrought in us,
but itself.

Biography is a drop in the sea.
Sky, flying off the horizon.
An orchard that covers earth.
Not a grain of sand is wasted.
Needed to create beaches
to leave our footprints,
where they can be found
and pulled back from death.
Never quite a story that can end,
with so many plots
to be continued.

Lost at Sea

A sea daisy blooms in the sea grass
behind me.
On the long coast,
the wind is an attenuated feather
of sound.
It will persist until it has circled
the world.
It will persist to Africa
and lay its invisible body on the desert there.
Piece by piece it will shed its single note.

The sea daisy will display itself for a day,
or another, and then
a blank space will tempt our eyes
to believe it is flowering in the dark.
Its simplicity will exhaust itself,
and my eyes will close.
When I open them
nothing will remain in me,
except a scrap of paper.

What traveled past me
when I wrote these words?
Did I miss the collision of a star?
Not see a mermaid appear from the waves
and beckon?
Did a plane crash in the sea
past the horizon,
and the last moment for a hundred souls
was the memory of a single night
drowning in the water.
Sea shells in the making?

Inside Earth

I want to fly through earth.
To see its subterranean vaults.
Its lava rivers, trenches,
the iron density of its core,
so impervious to our wondering.
The opening of doors,
the black energy of nothing.
Are there cities
of which we have no clue?
People moving through its walls?
Plasmas that recite poetry?
Could not?
Why not?

We’re nothing more than space
with an atom here and there.
The earth for all its rocks
is little more than lake
full of lights and shadows.
Black caves and quartz,
and perhaps others as existential
as we, saying to themselves,
I want to see beyond the ends of earth
where nothing is except walls,
behind which something pounds.

Going On Vacation

I cannot bid farewell.
My life ends when you leave,
begins when you return.
I want you to see a mountain
where you go,
and bring me back
a piece of its grandeur,
where it stays in your eyes.
And I want you to touch
a sea with your toes,
but go no further.
The shore is full of prizes,
enough to fill your hands
and bring me back a bag.

You are on vacation,
so ride carousels
and taste a fruit never tasted.
Say hello to strangers
on the street
and be changed by their faces,
only the glad ones,
the beautiful.
I will watch you fly
into the air,
and wave my arms
to see you wave
and fly above the clouds,
to see horizons
as they rise.
But the days between now
and your return
will seem forever,
or last forever,
or be eternal.

Weeds

I died of a broken heart
long ago.
Weeds replaced me.
And being ignored
they made a garden by themselves.

Each one sought their place.
By a rock,
along the walk,
by cans and stones,
until after days and months and years,
there were among them,
violets and dandelions,
goldenrod and thistles,
crabgrass with its crotch,
lambs quarters with leaves
the shape of harps.

Young trees starting here and there,
maple and mulberry,
elm, locust,
and somehow
they resembled a heart
looking for itself,
telling the soul to come back.

Such a quiet, joyful place was here,
with crickets and grasshoppers,
butterflies competing with the bees.
As if starting over
began each day,
a new face on things,
reason enough for any hour,
what with morning sun
and evening shade,
and a way of growing
that puts things back together.