After the business of dying was done.
After the last document was signed.
After the music of friends was risen
from church to a topless October sky
left just the colors of fall to burn
like small flags in the trees,
I learned to love what is incomplete:
the wood thrush working
on her song of flight tonight,
the moon chasing the sun
around the circle of sky.
Work indistinguishable from joy.
Water in a fountain cycling
as it seeks a way of being heard.
Because grace is nothing
when silence calls its name.
COMING AND GOING
My grandfather was an engineer.
Collected tolls on bridges
at the Jersey shore.
A quarter for each crossing
Longport to Seaview
Ocean City to Strathmere.
My Scottish grandfather
who cussed all
and edged both sides
of his two-step lawn
with a long-handled roller-blade
where grass shouldered concrete.
Who kept the fence along the alley
painted and clear of poison.
My grandfather, who collected coins
each day and sat on the screen porch
with a can of Iron City
and a tin of Rold Gold
in the quiet company
of an immigrant wife
counting the days
as the world passed through.
At a gate in Salt Lake City airport,
I watched a hardware salesman,
his bag like a pilot’s case, the kind with maps
of every airport he’d ever passed through.
His hands were full of receipts and papers,
between his legs a cup of coffee, no top.
How he strained
to still his knees,
keep the shaky liquid balanced
each time the connected seats were rocked.
His look of resignation when goodness
overflowed to his trousers,
darkening his crotch.
The sound he made
like a hinge on a door
that could not be closed.