Sunday [poem]

We walked among the trees together,
hand in hand, in slow synchronized steps.
The trunks rose like columns in some ancient temple
and the leaves glittered and shone with gilded edges.
These are your trees, and you know them
as well as your own children. You know
the paths among them well enough to walk them blind,
and no matter how far we wander,
I never fear getting lost as long as you keep my hand.
We walk along the riverbank,
and swirl our bare feet in the clear water;
it rushes over our skin like cold satin.
You settle at the base of your favorite tree,
resting among its labyrinthine roots like a king,
and you watch me, silent, with eyes more inviting than fire.
I obey and join you there, leaning my back
against the smooth grey bark and turning my eyes up
into the boughs, catching flashes of sun through the wind.
Your pale fingers work over my knee,
as if you were strumming a mandolin on my leg,
while you confess all the things you have seen,
all the roads you have ridden, and the lives
that you took. A soldier’s regret, a conqueror’s pride.
My small life must seem petty compared to yours,
but you ask about it anyway.
There’s such a quietness in your hands,
and your voice is as soothing as ocean waves;
it is hard for me to imagine how you can roar,
and snuff out a man as easily as a frail flickering candle.
You are the wind and I but a leaf,
but the trees have proven that the touch of the wind
and the movement of leaves makes a whispering choir
that puts angels to shame. And there in the shade,
you look up to say you are closer to heaven
when you are with me.

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