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by Beth Brown Preston

A Dream

Where the snow blinding, white lay cross the fields so thick and deep
we could step thigh high into a drift and the sharp red glint
of a redbird’s wing flashed above our bowed heads.
Or while jogging up the mountain road one night during spring thaw,
our eyes barely perceived that dark place at roadside
where a grizzly shebear spied our footfall from the shadows.
Up the mountain path to our cabin nestled on a hillside
where all the simple dreams of life came true.
On the woodstove fire a kettle warmed to a shrill whistle
while the wind circled tornados among the leaves.
And where we watched, very still, through the open doorway
as the black shebear crouched on hind legs beside the creek teeming with trout
scooped out the helpless fish its blue gills trembling with death.
Where you stripped me naked in the chill,
wrapped my shivering body in your heavy lumberjack shirt
and a ragged flannel blanket. Too frozen to make love
we brewed tea. Cracked teacups filled with Earl Grey,
the comfort of warm liquid spilled onto our china saucers.
Our souls came to reside in those woods:
to grapple in the silence of growing things –
the trees added each a year to our own brief lives.
Where no one knew what secret we were withholding
from those below in the valley more broken who dared not dream.
Where we huddled together in the night beyond speaking.



A Conversation with My Son

You tell me the Age of Fear begins that magic year – 1978:
same year your daddy parades around Greenwich Village
singing and dancing his own dark musical poems.
Your daughter is four. Sees in you that same dark magic.

There is a certain stillness about you tonight. A tough calm.

I hear your voice hovering over the distance between us.
Now the distance is my age measured by all these humble years,
the time of certain decline, cataracts like pearls in my eyes, slow limping of gait.
Your daughter has learned to count numbers,
to spell with her private alphabet.
Numbers no longer matter to me now,
as if age is just another word for tired, so tired.

You forgave the years of pain: trauma, love and lies.
Did your daddy ever really love me?
Did he ever really love himself?

And you, my son, at age forty-seven, steps forward
accepting all the worship due a grown man with your kind of wisdom.

You say it is the Fear, brought on by time,
ravaging all within us like a heartache.

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