across the silence of fear and death, I hear you.
In the news cycle or the headlines or posts and tweets,
I hear your whispered worries, like the exhausted
sigh of breath of a mother or a wife
a son or daughter, asking
why him? Here in our home,
all five of us have gathered in tight,
like the pink bud before it blossoms crimson,
or before someone snaps it off, leaving
the petals cast aside and crushed.
Once a day, I try to get out: a trip
to the grocery store or the bank,
or if the rains hesitates for an afternoon,
a hike out into the redwood forest where the silences
soften me. Where I can almost breathe.
Where as I am returning, a family passes me:
the anxious mother pulling her children off
to the side of the trail, close under her wing, trying
to smile, as if to say, hello, stay back. Today
there are 18,802 dead. There is no way
to unknow that. There is no way to unknow
that in every country of the world
someone this very moment is wailing. Iranian? Spanish?
Italian? No, Death is fluent in every tongue.
* Taken from a line out of Stanley Kunitz’s poem “The Layers”
Eureka, California Poet Laureate David Holper has done a little bit of everything: taxi driver, fisherman, dishwasher, bus driver, soldier, house painter, bike mechanic, bike courier, and teacher. He has published a number of stories and poems, including two collections of poetry, The Bridge (Sequoia Song Publications) and 64 Questions (March Street Press). His poems have appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies, and he has recently won several poetry competitions, in spite of his contention that he never wins anything. He teaches English at College of the Redwoods and lives in Eureka, California, far enough from the madness of civilization that he can still see the stars at night and hear the Canada geese calling.