The Storm Was All Around Us

We watched the clouds roll in that day
Cross-legged in the sand;
We heard the distant thunder
Sitting huddled, hand-in-hand –

Until the rain was on us,
Then we kissed and up we rose;
Ran in the rain to my place
Where we shed our sodden clothes –

Before, we’d been “long-distance”,
So then this weekend was it —
We’d spend the time together, and
See just how well we fit –

The waves were high and crashing
In the sea right near my place;
I felt her warm breath on me
As I touched her still-wet face –

Beneath the raging skies we burned
And boiled, desperately —
And on-and-off, back on again
Experimentally

And oh, we tried, with all we had,
Our demons to outrun:
The storm was all around us, though –

In far more ways

Than one


[Alternately titled “Remembering My First Real… Long-Distance Relationship”]

Forest 2019

We live in a forest now,
With deer in the yard most days.
I work in the tallest building in town,
And from there you can see —
This whole city is a forest.

I am watching the sun go down tonight,
And wondering:

Why is it joy
Cannot be enough?
When did I get
So enamored with stuff?

How is it I
Do not sleep for long?
Why’s the will so weak,
And the longing so strong?

I remember when freedom was enough.

I remember how it felt to be connected to life.

I recall the decisions, and the changes that lead me here.

I’ve known what it is to regret, and to wish I could change the past.

So many trees, with so many branches,
So many years in the forest green:
So many ways that a heart can be broken
So many trees that fall down

Unseen

Forest 2005

My son is ten, we are in my car,
On the way visit his uncle, my brother up in DC.
It’s autumn, and my son’s on his last fall break,
For next year, he starts a normal school schedule.

We’ve been listening to
Half-Blood Prince for miles,
Jim Dale’s many voices accompanying us,
The hills are burning in gold all around,
A forest unlike any he had ever seen.

Like an author, the future creates irony in the past,
Things we didn’t notice the first time through:
How different I would have been as a father
If I’d known what my son’s future held for him.

Never out of the woods, really,
In the original sense of meaning, “lost”;
And all the beauty the world has to show,
And the glories of family, and storytelling,
And last chances
Mean nothing

To someone who

 
Is surround by ghosts

Forest 1995

I had a chance at a job, and so,
We talked about it: leaving —
Her mom, and sisters, and her son’s dad nearby,
My parents just 10 miles away,
And her 7 months pregnant with our son.

We sat in the park on the bayou,
With a lunch she’d brought, and looked around
At the familiar scenery. She said,
“You need to go on this interview.
This is a chance to do something you’ve always wanted
To do. If you get the job, we’ll make it work.”

I did get the job. We didn’t make it work.
But I couldn’t know that then: I just sat
Looking out at the wind on the surface of the water,
Listening to it moving the trees.

The wind, that harbinger of change,
The water, timeless, rarely still,
The forest, reaching out to both,
But they each do just as they will.

The past: a mystery to solve,
The present: what has come to be —
The future: something we can’t know,
Familiar though, like

Scenery

Forest 1983

In college, and constantly wandering,
In search of the beautiful new,
When I happened upon a roadside stop
With an autumn forest view.

These colors were strange to a Florida boy,
But the whole thing seemed inviting
At an age where, at best, we just take things in,
And mere being is exciting.

So I drove til I found a forest road,
Where I set out to walking
In the days before phones and GPS —
Far away from the noise, and the talking —

And I found, like the woods that I knew as a boy,
This forest had rooms, and secrets;
Like college kids, who are shallow up front,
But deep when you can’t see it.

Six hour later, in a cheap motel,
With three springs in the mattress,
I thought about October’s ways,
And a girl at school — an actress —

And I closed my eyes to the silhouette
Of the car outside my window,
Then retuned to the forest, in my dreams,
Where I always long

To go

Forest 1971

I used to ride my bike to school,
And the way cut through these woods.
It’s strange to think:
At nine years old, in just fourth grade,
Alone on a bicycle, and yet,
It is the truth.

My brother and I came out here, too,
On weekends: he’d shown me the path
Past the power lines, taking the fork left,
And coming out by the school.

For a bicycle meant freedom,
And a forest, exploration,
And the right to go on my own
Sanctified the destination —
We yearn to be connected,
But long to be on our own,
Like a forest, growing, full of life,

Reliant, yet

Alone