Haiku for Fish and Heron
Below the surface
of the cloud-reflected stream
you glide in green winds.
Then strikes blue lightning.
Stilted reaper in motion
gives you brightest night.
Flow, wind, be water.
The endless ripples of time.
Flow, water, be wind.
Alive again in my dream last night—
white Egyptian cotton dress,
hair all plump with curls,
lips bright as glistening red wax—
my mother stepped forth
and led me through a seam in the air.
We entered a suite of rooms
with mahogany table and chairs,
Persian rug, crystal goblets,
lacy curtains swollen with light.
She said she was happy there,
though her mouth never moved.
What about Pop? I asked,
thinking of the empty house
and our hollow time in the dark.
I didn’t feel the grief of death,
only sorrow for unvoiced words
saying how much I loved.
I toured her luxurious home,
all of it as real and solid as life.
She kept to one side, but her joy
reached out like pools of water-light
till the whole place bound me close—
and I awoke at the threshold of words.
Returning to the Seaside College Town Where I Met My Old Girlfriend
What a beautiful job they’ve done
replacing the exotic atmosphere!
Sidewalk shrines to Buddha and Bob Marley,
homeless dropouts busking the streets,
the hulking creature with matted duckbill hair,
ex-psychology chair, quacking day and night . . .
all gone, nowhere to be heard or seen.
It was a time-warp stretch of America,
a moral pedestal for the terminally hip
whose youth and affluence failed to hide
a darkness running wild without a name.
We tried to give it one when we were here.
Remember? We lived by the sea, nothing
between us and dark restless waves.
In a crash of steel, at the depth of need,
I summon my blindness, willingly.
I summon your tears, salt of deaths,
and trove of pleasure on ocean floor.
Now that it’s too late to change anything,
I summon the names of darkness,
the shadows watching, gathered below.
Despair is to be stuck in time, unable
to reach into the past with fluent hands
and open eyes closed in burial sleep.
I want to return, I want to be a god or ghost
and unveil the wonder of our time,
carry new names and fates to us, and recover
the sea this love is still dreaming of.
I come back, at last, after two decades,
back to this town and shore. What I find
slumped in the boardwalk’s old beach chairs,
fallen from a winter’s tree-scored sky
isn’t enough to fill any dream with light.
There is no you here, only what I remember.
You have vanished so that I can see you.
Andrés Rodríguez is the author of Night Song, a collection of poetry, and Book of the Heart, a work of literary criticism. His poems have appeared in The Cortland Review, Drunken Boat, Flint Hills Review, Harvard Review, I-70 Review, New York Quarterly, and other journals. He is a winner of Poets & Writers’ Maureen Egan Writers Exchange Award for poetry. He lives and works in Kansas City.