Missed You

I missed you like
A part of me was gone
I missed you like
This heart of me was gone

But just then
A warm breeze blew in
And like your caress
It electrified my skin

I missed you when
The sun rose yet there wasn’t light
I missed you when
The day felt like the darkest night

But just then
A firefly flitted by
And like your smile
It lit up the whole sky

I missed you so
My flowers seemed to wilt
I missed you so
My song had no lilt

But just then
I heard the church bell
And like your laugh
It told me all is well

I missed you with
Every heartbeat and breath
I missed you with
An ache worse than death

But just then
I felt a gentle rain
And like your love
It washed away my pain

I Remember

All of a sudden
The morsel sticks in my throat
And I remember
The delights you packed for me
When I went away to school

In a mere instant
The piece of fabric I hold
Takes on a strange new sheen
And I remember
It was your favorite color

For no reason at all
The melody on the radio
Brings me a smile or a tear
And I remember
It was your special song

Without a warning
The book I sit and read
Makes me fall into a reverie
And I remember
It was your best-loved novel
***

I am a grown man now
Responsible for my own actions
I was once an angry young rebel
And I remember 
You apologized for my truancy 

I have all I’ve ever wanted
And money to buy what I don’t
Back then we had so little
And I remember
You scrimped just to spoil me

I look back upon
This life that you gave me
I almost frittered it away
And I remember 
You taught me how to live and why
***

Life after you
Is like walking 
On a lonely beach
Where waves of grief 
Wash over my feet

They bring with them
Pretty little conch shells 
Of your memories
For me to collect
And treasure
Forever

I Wish

(Two days ago my beloved mother breathed her last, surrounded by her family. These words are for her.)
I wish I had told her 
How much I loved her
More often than I did

I wish I had hugged her
When I knew she needed a hug
More often than I did

I wish I had expressed
My gratitude for all she gave
More often than I did

I wish I had said I knew
What she was going through
More often than I did

I wish I had held her hand
And just said “I understand”
More often than I did

I wish I had tried to feel
The pain in her ruin of a body
More often than I did

I wish I had prayed
That I suffered it instead
More often than I did

I wish I’d shown my admiration
Of her indomitable spirit
More often than I did

I wish I’d shown my appreciation 
Of her incredible tenacity
More often than I did

All alone, now that she is gone
All alone, I wander around
Feeling like a lonely old beggar

With all these worthless wishes
Like a bunch of dud coins
Jangling in my coat pocket

Surrender

These are the terms of my surrender
In the battle I lost many years ago
When I fell in love with all that is you
It’s taken so long for you to know

These are the terms of my surrender
Give me refuge in your arms
Forgive my many transgressions
Give me shelter from the storms

These are the terms of my surrender
Be my soulmate, confidant, friend
Share my joys, my sorrows too
Stay with me until our lives end

These are the terms of my surrender
Make me laugh, make me cry
Question me every step of the way
Never cease to ask me - Why?

These are the terms of my surrender
For I know I’m nothing without you
I owe you my very existence
Your love is what will see me through

These are the terms of my surrender
I am your prisoner now, for life
I volunteered for this confinement
The day I took you for my wife

Treasure Chest*

The pit in my stomach
When in a game of hide and seek
I suddenly discovered no one could find me

The short sharp instant
Of asphyxiation during my very first dive
When I thought I was literally dead in that water

The ecstatic cartwheels 
My heart turned with its unbridled joy
When I proposed and she said yes with her eyes 

The jet plane feeling
When for the very first time
I sped my car up onto an Interstate’s on-ramp

The subatomic smallness
That shrank me as I stood on the rim
Of the Grand Canyon and looked down its boundless abyss

The satiated silence
Of a moonlit walk when nothing was said
Yet everything was understood by our two clasped hands

The wave of breathless grief
That left me shaking like an aspen in a winter wind
When I watched him draw a breath and never let it out again

Memories time cannot erase
I often reach for them in my little treasure chest
What we have is only what we remember, as a great poet once said

Too Late

Eight years ago today we consigned my father’s body to the flames. I had a difficult relationship with him. I had not permitted myself to grieve his death. Until now. The photo is the Mahabodhi tree at Gaya, India.

I look just like him now, I thought
I was looking at your photograph
Your granddaughter had posted it on WhatsApp

And I realized I feel just like you did too
Like one who wasn’t of this world
Like one who didn’t belong

We had so much we could have shared
Like our lonely, unhappy childhoods
But we both chose to look the other way

Long ago, when I was a school kid
They thought we had lost you 
My knees seemed to buckle under me

The doctors told me to find courage
I looked for it, in vain, for decades
But it didn’t come: I lost so many battles

You lost your last great battle too
The cancer had decimated your body
You were frail as a feather in your final days

That night eight years ago
As Death came to take you from me
I finally found courage 
Too late

Night*

What kind of night is this
The wolves are all quiet
But the moon is howling

What kind of night is this
The ghosts are all hushed
But the trees and vines are full of chatter

What kind of night is this
The cicadas are all silent
But there’s a raucous cacophony in my ears

What kind of night is this
The sea is wave-less, still
But there’s a raging tsunami drowning my mind

What kind of night is this
I can see you with my eyes shut tight
But it all goes dark the moment they’re open

What kind of night is this
Your warm breath still lingers on my cheek
But my hand falls, limp, on your empty pillow