Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I Stand in the Rain to Hear Her Sing

I hear her calling me while I’m in the shower,
mornings when the half light of the sun's first rays
crawl over the horizon, splash against the wood slats
hanging listless before the window
then splintering softly as diffused pale light
off the bleak white of the collapsing walls
in my master bathroom.

By the time the light reaches the plastic steamed curtain
of the shower the room is the color of the moon’s halo.

I stare at the pasty grout between
the smooth milky tiles with an ear cocked
to the breath of voice. The faint call
echoes in my memory but it slices
through the steam choked air
as if she were roaming the inner walls
of my house.

Her soft calls, like her gentle prodding
from the door frame of the house I grew up in,
beckoning me from a street away to come home
from play, split the strands of water
lapping down upon me. Her voice was a warning
in the winter's setting sun, a closing to a day,
the end of games and the beginning home.

She would wait, framed in the doorway,
for the length of my shadow to crest our street
and stretch itself toward her. A wave of her hand
and a golden smile of relief flashed in the sun
before she retreated within, satisfied
that my journey home was almost complete.

I’ve been clean for twenty minutes
but I can’t turn the water off because I hide
the tears that spill over my eyelashes with the arching water.
Her voice is still clear though distant. She hums
from the kitchen as I breach the door while the last red fingers
of the sun slip behind Mount Ka'ala.

Garlic-salt and chicken fill the air as dinner simmers
and a soft chorus floats on the air with the delicious comfort of home.

I can almost make out her tune—

But I know it must be the echo of water
refracting on tiles producing a rhythm
that my subconscious mind wants to believe
is my mother's voice in the distance.
The running water traps sounds
that pry the edges of my memory open
spilling a splash of music;
dripping a dollop of voice.

I know I'm being fooled by the snatches of whisper
drowned within my inner being
who needs to believe my mother isn't dead.

As the heat of the shower becomes lukewarm
sluicing over my body I can hear the water
crashing on the gritty sand of Ali'i beach
where we gathered what was left of her—
a heavy gray chalky dust strewn with pebbled bone.
We dusted the ocean with her memory and cast a lei to the waves
as a final passage from this life to the next. A final parting.

But she hasn't left me. I can hear her voice in the running water.
So I wait for the shower to run cold before turning the spigots closed.
I let the faucet drip at night so she can whisper lullaby's as I sleep.

And I stand in the rain to hear her sing.


jen said...

Hey Thomas-

I think that is a beautiful poem about love, memory and grieving. It reminds me so much of Li Young Lee. Thanks for sharing it...

jared said...

that was awesome!