Moving from House to House
We live in a sacramental universe;
Every small act becomes an act to redeem us:
A brocaded coat repaired and handed down,
A kind of ancient music teasing the attic air,
The bats ganging up between screen and eave.
Sacraments hold us up when we fall down.
No longer dead rites, but buoyant, ebullient
As the dust of past lives settles after crossing
Thin bars of light. Light taunts the bats. It flies from
What’s left of beads and silver woven into the coat.
But the music is something misremembered
Like postmen and doctors knocking at the front door,
Or the cool, but kind, last look from a head nurse,
Or the dark moon that calls “black wings, black wings.”
When in time you found me, leaves had gone yellow
or fallen or few on branches or fallow
fields. Trees were empty choir lofts. Youth's bright birds sang
then left before the cold October must bring.
You found me in twilight, the glow before snow,
or frost on those brown stems or a wisp of breath
-- how many more before death plants me below?--
From here we can see further, here our life's breadth
forms a vista. Here where flames once leapt, grey ash
is heaped, warm still from what past fires we've known.
Still all this going is not completely gone.
Something of those late bird songs will stay, will last.
What you see in age makes all you love more strong,
knowing who you love must leave before too long.
Paul Jones has published poetry in many journals, including Poetry, Georgia Review, Southern Review, and North Carolina Literary Review, but also in cookbooks, travel anthologies, in a collection about passion (What Matters?), in a collection about love (…and love…), and in The Best American Erotic Poems: 1800 – Present (from Scribner). Recently, he was nominated for two Pushcart Prizes and two Best of the Web Award. His chapbook, What the Welsh and Chinese Have in Common, was a North Carolina Writers’ Network award winner. A manuscript of his poems landed on the moon’s surface April 11, 2019 as part of Arch Mission’s Lunar Library delivered by SpaceIL’s Beresheet lander. Jones is the director of ibiblio.org, a contributor-run, digital library of public domain and creative commons media begun over 25 years ago. He is also Clinical Professor in the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina.