And to myself? I offer only the crooked
grin of the toad– Lawrence Durrell
To the future, I give the rind of the past,
the dented stone from kneeling knees
in the floor of Chartres Cathedral,
the question mark of a staircase
amidst Turkish earthquake rubble.
To History, the plucked notes
of eleventh century troubadours
floating past footprints on the moon.
To Plato I give back my breath,
that was his from a prior millennium.
To poetry I leave behind
the obsessive sestina.
To the wounded of Gettysburg,
Walt Whitman reading letters from home.
To refugees, my good blucher boots.
To the Redeemer, permission
to forgive himself for letting the dead
sleep another century.
To the anxious I give my wristwatch,
to the well-intentioned,
To the raven, brass chess pieces,
smashed aluminum cans,
the deed to the Kingdom of Language.
To the United States I leave Old Glories
mechanics wiped their hands on.
Science gets Watson’s dream
of the double-helix,
while Art inherits
the scents of Picasso’s love-beds.
To the womb of the Black Madonna
I bequeath the semen of the Irish elk,
the eggs of the last tree frog.
To the sewers, excrement
of six billion souls, to the fields
of praise, tulip bulbs.
To fathers and mothers, portraits
of their fathers and mothers.
To the mirrors, facing mirrors
and the dreams imprisoned within.
To prisoners go
my thumbstained copies of Shakespeare.
To the new year,
old pornographic calendars,
to the old habits, their fears.
To the fashionable I leave
my hem line, to the insincere
the headache of holding a smile.
To musicians, I give the theme of the fugue
to repeat, I give to their knees
from my Taiko drum.
To lovers, I offer ears
that are deaf to prophecy.
Published in Stirring
Reprinted in The Water Leveling with Us, Red Mountain Press