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This was written for the wedding of my oldest son last month. Life…

reception

 

Home

 

the man on the radio

said children first learn

there are three dimensions-

 

height and width and, of course

length, like a shoebox, or a house.

and only later do they learn

 

of the fourth dimension, time

the one that lends meaning

to all the others – standing here today

 

as we watch you prepare

to begin building your life together

I am acutely conscious of time

 

of how the immediacy of youth

can ripen of its own accord

into patience

 

of how we begin by thinking that love

is something that happens to us

like a bee sting, or an unexpected fall

 

and only later do we see that love

is something organic, that if we’re lucky

is something we might grow

 

to inhabit, like an atmosphere

or more, something that might

come to infuse us, like blood.

 

the older I become, the fewer things

I take to be certain. But some few things

I do know. I know that keeping score

 

is never helpful. I know that love

for one another is cultivated

through an appreciation of small things.

 

I know that even amid the uncertain winds

of this life, in this you might find shelter —

that if you are willing to work together

 

with patience, and with love,

and perhaps with some small measure of grace,

you must certainly succeed

 

in constructing of your lives a home.

 

© 2017 jafink/oldbones.newsnow.com

 

 

 

chilidish things

 I was walking in a bookstore when the phrase, “we always believed that she could fly” came into my mind, loudly.  That night, a poem arose.  The details are from my mother’s memorial….

 

tombstone, child's grave

detail of weathered tombstone, barnett, VT

 

 

chilidish things 

 

we stood in a circle about the grave

some read poems and some

 

chose silence. the funeral director

placed her ashes into the hole

 

while redwing blackbirds sang

in the fields. we always assumed

 

that she could fly, but then we

were only children, eager to cling

 

to childish things

 

 

 

©jafink/oldbones.newsnow.com

My Father

My father, Allen Medford Fink, died of lung cancer in 1986 at age 72. He was not an easy man. As I explained once to an adult nephew, he was our father, so we wanted to be close to him, but it could be a dangerous place to stand. He taught us to be strong. But as I grow older myself, I can see that if my brother and I are, in our own ways, more gentle, well, he must certainly have given us the seeds of this gentleness as well.

 My father was 42 years old when I was born, so he was dead by the time my sons Patrick and Nathan were born. But his presence remains. In the Buddhist cosmology, the “three times” of past, present and future and not as solid as we ordinarily take them to be. Perhaps this is how I know that if he were to meet my sons today, I am certain he would be amazed. I am certain that he would be most pleased.

My father with me, the baby, and my big brother Joe on the lawn of our small house in Detroit in 1958.

My father with me, the baby, and my big brother Joe on the lawn of our small house in Detroit in 1958.

Written April 2015 in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah —

rains

the wind

is beginning to howl

a late season snow coming in.

by morning, everything

will be blown back

into white.

 

I remember my father

staring out the kitchen window,

massive and simmering,

considering the evening sky.

 

he left the farm just before the war-

came North, but never lost the habit

of weather,

 

of watching the clouds

for signs of impending danger

of flashing from sun into thunder

with no warning.

 

we’re grateful for the snow-

it’s been dry here for too long.

 

redemption can come

through the blessings of rain

of a rain that falls hard all day

of a rain that might protect us

 

from the lightning

from rage without warning

from the flames

t

hat can race up from the valley

and sweep us all away

incinerating everything

 

 

 

©jafink/oldbones.newsnow.com

visitor

how strange it feels to return as a guest

to this city where my children were born

to sit above this frozen lake, barely a block

from where she squeezed them into the world.

chicago ice is harder than ice in the mountains

 

all blocks and harsh geometries, the cold indifference

of the city. there’s so much they don’t tell you

about raising a child, like how warm they are

when you hold them as they sleep

how they arrive complete with their own destinies

 

committed to making their own mistakes;

how you’ll touch them less and less as they age

as if you’re both slowly fading into a story

how you’ll watch, helpless, as they suffer

the crushing pains of this embodied human life.

 

beneath the ice, the waves still come, lifting and cracking

the heavy gray plates. one day, they say, spring

will return, but tonight, it’s just the slow rolling

of unseen waters, the lifting and settling of the frozen lake

the slow and brutal grinding of ice upon the shore.

 

 

©jafink/oldbones.newsnow.com

Moroccan Elements – Part 2

on hearing the voices of children late at night from our riad deep within the Medinah….

 

 

vortex                 last night

last night, just as I closed the door

to consciousness and stepped into

the cool blue anteroom of sleep, I heard

the voices of small children, rising, falling,

echoing through the house, familiar voices

passing just beyond my comprehension.

are these the voices of children

 

 

gone before, or of those still to come –

or are these the sounds of the lost

and harshly punished parts of myself

that are running now, their small

black and white shoes clattering

down the long wooden hallways of time,

rushing to see who’s come to the door,

to see who’s come to reclaim them

after such an unforgivably long time.

 

 

 

©jafink/oldbones.newsnow.com