The Voice of the Choir

In mind of Mother’s Day, here’s an old poem about the incredible depth of emotion in which a family swims. How long can you tred water? I think the poem has some good, sincere intensity. But it needs to be rewritten. Maybe I’ll take another crack at the imagery, one of these days.

This is from my book Finding Oakland. It’s out of print but you can have it in PDF by clicking the Creative menu, above.


In the few cold minutes
since my death
I have seen my people
going by. Now I understand
returning home
and remaining away.
We fished orange salmon
from a bridge arched in pain
and rose at three to watch
the moon in the shadow
of the earth.

My mother and father
sleep in their armchairs
and rise up singing hymns.
The sharp November air
has taken the house
the grass is gray
and the birds are gone.
No hope of rain and no

My only brother
his face to the window
is singing
to the miles and the time
behind and forgotten
the words we must say
so we don’t give up.
His words rise like clouds
with thunder and trembling
becoming San Francisco rain.

The birds which are gone
had wings of wet lapis
and the voice of the choir
of heaven. But even I, who was
dead, know the true cost:
the quiet lost, the fear
of telephones, or light
beneath a door. All we can do
is love, hold fast, let go.

Creative Commons Licensed
Published 1992.
Changed just a little, 2015

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