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Here you will find the writings of the poet Theodore Waterfield

The Retreat

Somehow we gathered
like birds on a wire line.
A retreat for Saint Patrick.
Something to do over Lent.
In the loneliness of our perch,
to see topaz coming up,
and fire going down.
None of us knew where we were.
High in the rarified stratosphere.
Cold with our prayers.
How did we end up here?

Where, mother, did you leave us
in the store?
Why, father, did you go away?
Brother, sister,
where is your shouting?
There is too much stillness.
We do not have a song to share,
one note to hum.
Child, I have not forgotten you.
You grew up,
went away,
died in my sleep.
I love you forever.

Some of us move closer,
forcing everyone to move.
There is a man down there
looking at us.
A whole highway of people.
The man feels our aloneness.
Are we cold?
Do we have enough to eat?
How long will we live?

Will we show up in his garden?
I can’t tell him.
The others look off in clouds.
Later we will go our separate ways.
Some of us will find food.
A few of us will never return.
Only the man saw us.
I do not see him now.


What makes poetry
different than prose?
Music my friend,
What makes love
different than sex?
Care my friend,
the intention of oneself.
What makes living
different than life?
Joy my friend,
the dancing of one’s feet.
What is the beauty
in the plainness of a face?
Light my friend,
the path of a meteor
in the eyes,
the smile that welcomes strangers.

Where does childhood go
when we grow up?
Into the other room my friend,
where the toys are kept.
Does dying hurt
as much as being born?
Perhaps a little less
knowing where we’ve been..
Who touched us in the beginning
and whose hands
would take us back.

What is the difference
between forever and never?
Forever my friend is remembering
where we put our hearts,
never is the place
where the light goes out.
Does anything matter
in the scheme of things?
The test my friend
is like looking for your glasses,
where you put your teeth,
will morning ever come,
finding water in the desert.

Weighing Things

Jackie and I
weighed things on a scale.
The weight of beads,
a penny,
a paperclip,
and in my heart
watching Jackie laugh,
I weighed his smile.
We weighed everything
that came to hand,
a glass,
a pear,
a little mirror with faces.
neither better or worse,
less or more beautiful.
Finding what they shared in common,
falling to the earth,
inside love,
inside the joy of wonderful,
and childhood.


I do not make sense anymore,
so I do as I please.
Have answers to everything.
A life that says,
I live here,
I am one of its prophets,
I have learned to know
in a certain way,
why things fly,
yell in my ears,
scream with silence.
Where things get lost
going somewhere,
and coming out
is going in,
depending where
we leave ourselves,
or how we knock
upon a door,
behind which no one left an answer.


Mary creates a manger
out of clementine boxes from Spain,
the sweet tangerines of Iberia.
Cyclamens on the table,
lover-like butterflies above
white webbed leaves.
The Christmas tree remains
from December, 12th night has passed.
Sleet outside has turned to snow.
The air twinkles with flurries.

A great white owl
spreads its wings above me.
A nocturnal power of arctic fury.
Fifty years, and
I stand in a silent room
saying, yes, yes, to
the talons of a fierce, primordial
its eyes enormous in the vastness
of the cold.
A glimpse into immensity at midnight,
torn open by something wonderful.


From time to time
I have to state the facts
about me,
walking slowly in my garden,
sitting in a chair,
not speaking at parties,
listening to my elders
who died yesterday.
Tell you something about this morning.
How I get up.
Why I believe in love,
more than love believes in itself.

Why I believe in destiny,
whether I have one or not,
in goodness and greatness,
and purpose.
The soundness of fresh apples
and mothers,
and pets of all kinds as neighbors.
Responsibility for life,
which I hope doesn’t unravel
the perfect sense of things
and how I arrive at today
not being misjudged.

I have no calluses on my heart.
Never look away from the
plainness of faces,
never doubt higher beauty.
Never lost the joy of being in love,
of sentiment,
of letters and diaries and flowers.
Never ignored moonlight, violets, children,
the diffidence of youth.
I believe in a higher order of unreality.
The music we pour in rivers,
the ultimate hunger of a dream
that can sleep forever,
wake up refreshed,
in love,
writing poems,
being silly,
and not much older than sixteen.

Under My Pillow

Oh yes!
I am seeing.
I am by the wall of a white house.
The green chill of moss
under a faucet.
I am three, perhaps four
smelling apples by the window.
Our tree with its yellow fruit
rolling on the sandstone.
Watching the drip of water
coming from the spigot
sunrise and lilacs,
pussy willow.

My bare feet on the grainy stone.
Grass full of dandelions.
A road of gravel,
a spine of train tracks
in the middle.
I feel the air brush me,
hear my breathing.
Look at my small hands.
What have they touched?
I remember your legs
bruised with climbing.
At the bottom of time,
the cave under the pillow,
the chirp of birds in the darkness.

Oh little me!
Say hello to me!
Touch the bark of the apple tree,
hear your mother’s voice
calling to us.
Sit on the porch
and watch trains go by.
Curl dandelion stems into rings.
The day never closes,
sounds keep calling.
The sky is blue as morning glory
and I wonder what becomes of us.
Or who sees me
watching you,
and who sees us,
watching us.

What Did I Do Last Night?

Did I open last night
like a moon flower?
Was I white as a planet?
What entered and what left?
Was a pyramid built for me,
a seawall constructed?

How many breaths did I take
while an angel watched me?
I seem to smell of the sea.
Did the wind take me to the shore?
Who met me in that stellar place?
Why are my eyes dripping with tears?

It’s such a beautiful day outside.
Something tugs at my heart.
The long hair of a dream
falls through my fingers.
Will I be afraid to sleep tonight?
Whose earth did I leave
like a little catastrophe
never to see them again?

The Ineluctable

To behold the innermost secrets
of what is to become.
Watch life sleep and burst
from its bed
like a bell tolling
into the distance.
To see every leaf that will open
its scroll after the barrenness of winter.
To listen to the voice
pronouncing words every day of its life.
To hear songs
under the window of the sky.
When we are alive,
to know it.

When we hear rain
to feel the quenching of the earth.
To look into the windows of the street
and see life passing,
people, moods of day and night,
lighting of storms etched on their surface.
To see what has been and will become
the here and now,
then sleep and return to the inner dream
of everything.
A smile on the page of nothing.


Where did I put yesterday?
In the closet with my coat?
With the newspaper?
The unread, disturbing stories,
people complaining, sales,
letters to the lovelorn.
Where did yesterday go?
That beautiful child.

That glow in the sky.
That sky that outshone a sea.
A puppy ready to leap,
full of fragrances.
A day ready to wear,
to travel in,
to say
what a wonderful day!
One of a kind.
A poem in every moment.

So where did I put it?
Why is it not here?
The door of my heart is wide open.
The air is coming in.
Did it leave without saying goodby?
Did I not say thank you?
I was so busy on the phone.
I had errands to run.
I lost things I had to find.
I was going to go out to run.
I was not going to ignore its coming.
The only wonderful day of its kind.

It had eyes of welling water,
cheeks of rose,
a smile that invited,
pulled one in,
and now it is gone,
the door open,
though its freshness lingers,
as if I am forgiven.

Did I hear something?
is that you?
Are you coming back?
There is a glow in the sky.
Everything is clean and clear.
perhaps I’m being forgiven,
another chance!
Today, it seems
so like yesterday.
Come in!
Let me embrace you!