If you ever lose heart and the earth seems as distant as stars fading into the noise of your busy mind, know this. That a tiny island exists in the blue hands of the ocean. That a tree grows upright into the salted clouds. That two eagles love each other enough to spend their lives greeting the morning sun together. That two eaglets stand in their nest, gazing at the heavens. Looking down to the forever ground. They eat and sleep and flap their wings. And one day in July, one by one, they will jump into the air. They will know the difference between existing and what is beyond. They will hold onto nothing. The hurricane will come, courage catching their pinions on fire, as they mount the wind, climbing ladders into realms of the invisible.

--T.L. Stokes

Thursday, August 18, 2011

After the War


Horses are wind across the field. The woman
braids fingers into the horse's mane, running like this
makes the brain go silent. Dreams chasing her fall
in the grass. The sun picks them up. Hoof beats
drumming are thunder and years of soldier
clothes and horrified scenes are over. The hours
with horses are the only real freedom. She enters
the wind of their breathing. It pulls her hair back.


If she could do anything it would be this:
undo the harm to others and make amends,
but how do you change history? She lifts up her hand
and the walls of the day are filmy leaking color
and dissolve away. She opens her hand and the
sun grows brighter, shines until she see nothing.
And the quiet is loud and the crying comes like
music closer and closer and the colors are harsh.
Someone is lying in the mess. There are pieces
everywhere. Someone is shouting or shooting
and then it stops. The bird in the cage of her throat
swells and flutters to come out.


The pages of the book of her life
are torn in places and it was hard to read.
She placed it on a shelf and forgot about it.
At night when she can't sleep it calls to her
like a bird she forgot to feed. It calls and
calls but she can't hear it. The night fills
the room like a black lake. When it gets to her
nose she waves her hands trying to remember the
formula someone once gave her, to breathe
under water.


The woman picks up the book, moves a hand
over the cover and begins to remember her
name and what language her life is written.
A few pages are missing. She runs a finger
over the uneven edge and as she does, it
begins to mend. The paper like dragonflies
opens and shimmers. The words begin to
fly around the room. They circle her head.
Just then the dog walks in. The book is gone.
The day shifts.


Two horses stand by the old tree of crooked elbows.
An eagle watches everything. The woman rises from
the brown field all soft and unreal and her body
becomes a large dark bird, opening and closing it wings
tasting summer and its youth, all forgiven because there
is nothing to be forgiven for.


This is life. Horses. A book. A dog. An eagle. Seasons
of death and life. Recycling storms and floods sweep it away.
Out of the dark void of all things, the universe of endless mystery
floats. Black holes, infant stars. The past does not exist,
nor time, nor future. The woman reading. The love of the dog
saying with its dark eyes this moment is all there is. This
moment I am everything you lost and gained. I am those who
were harmed, I am those who have loved you. I am all things,
sit with me. Feel how I forgive you, how large and expansive
this is. I am the gift you give yourself. I am what you didn't
know, your spirit you misplaced in the darkest hour.
Feel, as I return to you.


There was a sound like a click when gears come loose,
something slides, a shift in the air. She takes
a deep breath. The woods begin to awaken, the water
bends away. The woman feels the red muscle of her heart
come free of its cage.

dedicated to Msseaman
and Karamia, her dog

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