Chains of Love

Seeking to expel regret with sweat,
I climb toward El Faro Viejo
whose bold red and white bands once warned
sailors away. At night, the flashing light
winks life, death, life, death
like a crystal ball with only two answers.

I pass stately cardons centuries old,
torotes with papery bark that shivers in the breeze,
and coralita vines whose heart-shaped leaves,
pink flowers, and soft green tendrils

smother the plants they cling to—
I remember the vine is also called chain of love.
I know these chains. Forged by fear,
they leave behind dry, brittle, and fragile limbs
that fracture easily in the wind.

Up close, the red bands of the lighthouse
flake, the white paint is stained, peeling.
I am disappointed—
I had hoped to find an undamaged façade
upon which to define my shadow.

I want to turn my back on the lighthouse,
gather the pink-lipped coralita flowers
into my arms, breathe in their soft promise of mercy
then release the blossoms out, over the sea.


In Praise of Glacial Movement
for my mother

You deform with careful, deliberate
slowness—creaking, groaning—the weight of years
pressing, making you firm and obdurate,
strong in your convictions but dammed by fear
that leaves you jumbled in the meltwater
of conversation. Your surface, once smooth
is blemished now with blue shadows, furrowed
and dotted with the memories of youth,
the accumulated debris of life
lived long and well. But on those clear mornings
when your equilibrium line is high
and the light shimmers off the crystalline
caves of your mind, you sparkle, flow, and glide—
surging still, suffused with life magnified.


Cindy Buchanan grew up in Alaska, graduated from Gonzaga University, and lives in Seattle. Her work has been published in Mobius: The Journal of Social Change, Straight Forward Poetry, Whistling Shade, and Tipton Poetry Journal. She is an avid hiker and has completed the Camino de Santiago, the Coast to Coast in England, and the Milford Trek in New Zealand. A student of Buddhist philosophy, she hopes to send kindness out into the world.