“Crossing Autumn Skies”
The Chinese made an art of it:
"Bidding Farewell to Tzu-lung, Off
to a Post in Chi-Chou, while Sorrowful Geese
are Crossing Autumn Skies."
Emperors were always dividing friend
from friend, husband from wife, mouth
from meager breath. Vast empire. Vaster prerogative.
Whim elevated to irrevocable decree –
enough to make even the old gods jealous.
Preparing for your journey, lying snug
in your narrow skiff, floating above
a bottomless sea, this clay-red wave
poised at graveside. The harness squeaks,
as does any boat at anchor. And like
the old Chinese poets,we stand on the far shore
composing lines in our heads to occupy the spaces
warm flesh once filled, the metric of heartbeat.
"Seeing Off Sister Elaine whose Blue Singer
will Now Stitch Silence onto Silence for
Our Bed Quilt of Memory."
Someone drops in a thimble, another a rose.
We watch until distance reduces you,
a speck on the horizon as small as the period
that brings this sentence to a close.
By Steven RatinerQLRS Vol. 16 No. 2 Apr 2017