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Here you will find the writings of the poet Theodore Waterfield

How Fire is Made

The dewdrop of atoms.
The way water cuts a glacier in two.
Divided sleep
between two fires of sunset and dawn.
Why the heart is made of ash.
To live it burned in fire,
touched the mouth of another
and ignited.
Even the diamond burns in the light,
fills the hands
with the brightness of a prayer,
hides in the blackest space
and becomes a star.

The waste of the sea
consumed in foam,
a rolling tide of brightness,
fire from the white volcanoes
in its darkness,
where the earth consumes itself.
The fire inside the cold ambition
of a saint,
the child glowing in the sun with radiance.

Everything warmed and moved
by its conflagration,
until there is nothing in the end.
Until the space left by fire
waits for the last moment of eternity
and blazes up,
to begin again,
how fire is made.

Balancing the Stones

Truly work is never done.
The washing of clothes,
the cleansing of dishes,
the repair of cracks,
broken joints,
buying bread,
listening to the happy,
and comforting the broken.

There is no final time
when things are done,
except being born,
and the last thoughts before leaving,
measuring its loneliness
by whispering love,
giving instructions,
absolving the fear
that come with living.
And saying to the air
that kept its place,
thank you friend,
for your silence.

Thank you for allowing me
my migratory ways,
my thoughts going off in lightning,
falling into wells,
and letting me collect my stones.
The heavy ones
for topiary in my garden.
Little statues of stones balancing,
strong and fragile.
And pictures of their fossils,
giving me a faith.

If life goes on this long,
how beautiful its prayers,
how brave its striving,
a message for the rain
running off their faces.
Keep faith with work,
and things to be done,
making life easier for others,
going to sleep with a weary
but satisfied feeling.
Out of forever I was
a blithe set of wings,
a spirit
learning how to fly!


They are halfway stations
between ourselves and above.
Sometimes like cathedrals,
light comes through
in a shower of stars,
or the sky falls down
through our arms with joy.
The roof between streets
is lapis lazuli burning with opal,
and the roof for rain is a waterfall.

The roof of a blanket
is like no roof at all,
except Jackie has such a roof
where Michael joins in.
Hung between chairs
it becomes a home
as good as any roof
holding up clouds.

What lives without a roof?
Perhaps the sea under clarity
and mountains too tall
a bird rising to forever
on its last soaring flight
to enter a hall,
where we cannot enter.
But for us
the soul has places
where roofs must be,
wide as the world,
or the width of a finger.


I will note when Michael played trains
with Jackie and me.
Three months and a week
in the lattice of his life.
He spoke with his eyes,
smiled with a great sun,
spoke with magical words,
as he sat in my arms
watching Thomas the tank engine.
James the red locomotive,
a boxcar ahead on the bridge,
the coming and going of a train
as I kept him informed
of its travels.

So sunrise came up,
sleep threw off its cover,
air became purity.
Michael had his place
with Papa and Jackie,
while a page opened in his soul,
tingled through my arms,
and written on it,
a light-year said,
I am Michael,
child of lightning,
coming home.


I live amid order.
Sanitary floors.
Washed windows.
Vanilla walls.
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.


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,
and he nods.
He doesn’t know.
It makes no difference,
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,
and start over.


A distraction,
everything a distraction,
in the shallowness of my heart.
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.

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.

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


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.