Photo by Dave Selover
Amazon link for Birthmark
Luke, at two years old, takes his mother's open hand
and tells us that she's holding a blackbird, her palm
curved, it seems, under the weight. It makes us smile.
Later, after you've fallen asleep, I find your hand
under covers, run my finger inside the warm
cusp and touch, for the first time, its wings.
Kazim pauses to glimpse Icarus.
The others rush ahead of us.
All morning cardinals build
themselves into magnolias.
A stranger says to another,
There's no one way to get there.
Across the Grounds, an empty
bus rounds a loggia of trees
as blue melts into the light
blue hills of Charlottesville.
With light near shadows
grazing the chilled grass,
they walk slowly and in
doing so remove the dark
that follows just behind
them, falls to the ground
until all at once, it seems,
they become father and son,
a man and a boy, and the world
suddenly opens ahead of each
step, air unfolds like a pair
of hands once clasped in prayer
now simply open, welcoming.
Below this sky filled with
broken clouds, the boy recalls
a time when, searching a creek
during lowtide, he'd found
a geode he and his friends
had carried back to the road
and smashed with chunks of
pavement they'd lifted from
the dead end. It broke open.
It spilled its splintery
crystals over the tarmac,
and the boy stopped laughing,
though his friends continued on,
he saw how the stars spread over
the sticky black and knew then
some things in this world
go unnoticed for a reason.
Those friends, he doesn't think
of them when he follows the morning
with his father, and the two,
at different times, glance back
to see their steps have gathered
on the risen dew as the sky
warms, they feel their breathing
heavier underneath coats, their
hearts swelling in the excitement
of knowing deer are blending within
the growing wall of trees. Nearby,
a sound in the brush becomes a flutter
of wings, becomes a random bird that
swirls skyward and fades within
its own song. The two look at
one another. In the son's quick smile,
the father sees traces of himself,
but as someone better, someone else,
and the son, out of the corner
of his eye, sees a doe
and pretends, for a moment,
that he has seen nothing.