Every night the same glow. Some life trying to get in.
I used to think it was my father, long gone
come to visit with me as a grizzled old vagrant.
His suit, his hat, his empty, penetrating eyes gazing across at me.
Do I believe it is my father?
My confessions to him process nothing
of who he was to me.
Only this inner counting as I wait for his return …
Do I think it is my mother, trying to hold me as I cry?
Maybe it is my distant lover from some long time ago.
Maybe that’s all that memory truly is –
just sensory images and an inner counting
until we…what? master waiting? Our steps,
part of an older saunter?
Well, I waited on a visitation by weird others to claim me.
Struck by visions, I crept out there to meet them in the dark.
I waited for hours on a prayer rug. Knees crossed.
Oil, incense, a prayer wheel. An owl hooting above.
I woke to a white paper moon. Bright stars.
What is it about sleeping, forgetting, remembering?
Is it the clairvoyant imagination, so fired?
Is loneliness just a sleeping, a forgetting, a remembering?
That I could suspend time for myself?
Enter the absolute emanations of Spirit?
In the tangled shrubs, hesitant beings. I saw them.
Shrouded, hooded, like trumpet vines.
My father’s Imago whispers to me,
you are the ineffable magnitude.
When the hands that seek you, take you,
you are just atoms-to-atoms, strip-searched for meaning.
You are the love-light divine.
The observatory. The beacon. Free. You will find what light calls to you.
And then a nectarivorous angel, a pollen bat,
vibrates over me: It says:
Maybe love is the one applied masquerade we spirit dance to.
To uplift us in prayer. Maybe a light in another calls us to love it.
Maybe supplication is how we begin to appraise all our losses.
How we curate life’s aesthetic paradoxes. Its lies, Its truths.
The white almond tree blossoms in the San Joaquin Valley
falling to the ground so erotic, so fragrant, so spent, just as the others
come alive with naked bridal aroma, resembling – to me –
both a nuptial and a funeral…What we seek to keep, we lose;
what we lose returns to us by the hand fulfilling all its absence;
we are lost and found again in the time that renders us in twilight …
and we are rendered in memory and loss, in a sleeping beauty awakening
there in the almond orchards; our body, flung out in aromatic petals; …
we’re made of spirit-shattered light. A beauty impossible to define.
For a long while I sat there, amazed by stars. By a grief
so very secret I could never tell it.
By a confession in a voice adrift,
far, far away from me. By an accuracy that cannot be read.
Confession is an act of spirit; it proves that the body
is an historical fact, and yet completely a-historical. A hotel space.
Something hiding in the fruit tree said it.
It was bodiless, nothing of it; a spirit flare
in which the whole world appears, that’s it, that’s all.
And the name is just a feathered bird, seeking refuge
in the crow’s nest of another’s boat, in some other life,
rocking there on the choppy seas.
And what we remember is just the form of the dream
and not the dream itself, which comes true later.
I don’t carry roses to fool myself on any summer evening now.
Nor do the florid stars
rising over the city park’s shell-work
of standstill shards – its glassware, so star-lit –
remember any part of my name.
Except how it is I pray.
Ken Meisel is a poet and psychotherapist, a 2012 Kresge Arts Literary Fellow, a Pushcart Prize nominee and the author of eight books of poetry. His most recent books are: Our Common Souls: New & Selected Poems of Detroit (Blue Horse Press: 2020) and Mortal Lullabies (FutureCycle Press: 2018). His new book, Studies Inside the Consent of a Distance, was published in 2022 by Kelsay Books. Meisel has recent work in Concho River Review, I-70 Review, San Pedro River Review, Crab Creek Review and Rabid Oak.