Flowers Are a Form of Vertigo

 

So little safe footing,

yet we long to linger

here among wildflowers,

scattered like prayers that fell

just short of heaven—

linger longer with purple gentian,

sky pilot, blue forget-me-not,

yellow Rocky Mountain buttercup

on a slope more suitable

for pica, marmots, bighorn sheep—

not meant for head-heavy bipeds,

as rivulets of snowmelt

undermine our feet.

It’s as if we fell

 

from a remote star,

the way we’re so seldom

at home in this world—

forever roaming

in search of a settled place,

where unlike petals coexist.

Rash words like loose rocks

throw lives off balance.

Storm clouds gather

over the steep terrain 

of the heart

and we tumble,

pressing wildflowers    

into the gilded afternoon.

© 2020 by Lew Forester

October Burial

The dulcimer of summer

is silenced by brass and drum.

A confused wind loots color

from maple and ash,

mutters in a foreign voice

as it disrobes us. Our bones rustle

and swallows fly from our ribs.

 

Your absence is rooted

in this season, in the cider smell

of apples rotting on the ground,

in the jolt of cobalt sky.

Your blood is on the thorns

of roses cut to bloom inside.

 

As your days grew dim and narrow

you covered yourself in shadows,

dreams shifting from water

to winter fire. Stripped bare,

you began to wear a prison face,

longed to be buried in leaves.

© 2018 by Lew Forester 

Room After Room

 

Torn by war, my father craved

beauty he couldn’t afford.

I once followed him through

a Chinese pottery store, moving

room to room, through

Tang, Yuan, Song dynasties.

I was spellbound by a ceramic

pot, painted with dancing nudes

& strange birds that carried off

parts of my childhood.

It was there I lost my father

until finding him in another room,

browsing the Ming Dynasty.

 

I was forty when father’s aorta

exploded & he bled out within.

Burial plans were discussed

while his empty robe lounged

in his chair. I envisioned his ashes

in a Chinese porcelain pot

but others could only see dirt.

As the chalk moon walked

through the gloomy night

I fell into a dream—

following my father through room

after room of beautiful things

until I lost him for good. 

 

© 2021 by Lew Forester

 

Tides

 

Gulls hover and dive over waves retreat

for whatever quivers and crawls.

 

Sun-blocked bodies surge

to umbrella a parcel of sand.

 

Dress soaked below her knees,

a woman rips mussels from rocks,

tosses them into a pot.

 

Beach combers poke at starfish,

collect sand dollars, unaware

or perhaps not caring

 

the purplish-brown still live,

the white as bone are dead.

 

I’m here for the wedding of sea and sky,

the foamy baptism of bare feet.

 

I find messages in driftwood, plastic flotsam.

Pools of anemone

reflect anomalous me—

 

wading in words, immersed in other worlds.

I stand in the slippery day,

anticipating tides.

 

© 2020 by Lew Forester

Rod Rolled His Convertible

 

The sudden wedge of light

from my open door

startles a fox.

Later, a rabbit’s head

bloodies the grass.

 

In Driver’s Ed

they made us watch scenes

of accidents—

mangled cars,

blood-smeared pavement,

headless bodies flanked

by whiskey bottles.

 

Gasps, nervous laughs,

we remained secure

in our speed as rabbits.

 

We were too large, too swollen

with hope, promise

to ever fit inside that hell.  Rod,

 

like the rest of us,

took for granted the gravity

that held him in his seat.

 

© 2021 by Lew Forester

In Praise of Persistent Green

I wake as finches hosanna the morning, sun

weighs heavy on fields of winter wheat.

A sun that always promises the impossible.

Steeped in light, we move in bodies that burn

without flame, thin walls between us and death.

I wait for wonder to rise while all over earth

animals bow their heads to grass, accept the grace

of another breath. How we quarrel with day,

subdivide it with duty, still wanting something

to raise us up, the way crocuses push through soil

to splash yellow and purple over crusted snow.

Making love almost gets us there. Everyone

is making love and love is making everyone

and everything. We sex and sprawl over spring

as it streams from hillsides, floods the air 

with pollen. Aspen leaves unfurl from sticky buds

and begin to whisper their winter dreams.

We can live here forever, linger in lush meadows,

or give what we can before our hands shrivel

and close around all they don’t even know they hold

 

© 2019 by Lew Forester