Two Poems by Sharon Mayes


How well I know that hope blossoms in spring
from death,
death then hope-resurrection.
This year after twenty years
of dragging my invisible cross
from continent to continent,
city to suburb to country,
across ocean and ocean,
I walk perilously alone
on the edge of living.
This year abandoned by albatross of self-doubt.
I throw the stones back to the ground.
I watch a real human heart take its last beat
and stop
while mine goes on.
I am not dead yet.
It is the other who has perished
in spite of my breathing with him and for him.
I discover I can give only a moment,
I cannot give eternity.
I burst forth from my golden cage
and exist in the flesh,
my blood in my body,
not on the hands of a doctor
who operates outside the room.
I rise with the sun,
feel light and warm
with new power.
I am the beauty of cherry trees
in flower.
I stride on this planet
no ascending into heaven.
I leave behind illusions of everlasting anything.
I am happy to plant my feet on this hallowed ground.
I wallow in the imperfection of all I am
and ever will be.
I am not an instrument of history.
Two millenniums ago Christ carried his own cross,
but he did not nail himself to it.
I carried my cross around my neck,
my life in a suitcase of the dead.
A kiss from Judas game Him
his excuse to be free.
He had no kiss for me.
I cast off my own devils,
a husband and his pompous rules,
the property and the chains of jewels,
every vestige of who I do not want to be.
Each morning I wake in peace
I give thanks that I resurrected my own soul.
God saved his son for you.
And I saved me for me.


Heat in the Valley to the East of here
pulls gray air over the Pacific
I leave my farm in late afternoon sunlight
and drive three miles to walk on San Gregorio beach.
Over the green hills white clouds hover,
pale fingers spread into the canyons
grasping the edge of the earth.
Color is gone,
the landscape bleached,
a wash gone wrong.
The parking lot has one lonely car
on the asphalt of Payne's gray.
I make my way through this shroud
stumbling over driftwood,
scattered debris from storms at sea
and floods that ran across my own land.
The ocean is a churning mass of whitecaps
with no edge, no sharp focus.
There is no horizon.
I think this must be like waking into heaven,
moving from the clarity of a sunlit day
into a blur with no placing behind you
and no place to go.
The wind rises and my hair flies in my face.
It smells like freshly laundered sheets.
I know where I am, but I can't see where I'm going
I walk on with suspicion that I've walked this way before
I listen to the wheet-wheet-wheet,
the high-pitched warning of a sandpiper
the clicking sound of another bird-
a Plover, maybe.
It reminds me of the ticket taker
on the New York to Connecticut commuter train.
I hear a melodic whistle
but I do not see that bird.
I see instead a memory of a girl
walking alone along the train tracks
hearing the whistles of boys as they pass.
The back of a sign oh the hill looks as if two lone figures
stand side by side, their arms tucked tight into themselves.
They guard this inscrutable moment, this place.
There is no definition
yet one person is here.
The cliff to the East is serrated knife wound
wrapped in a thin gauze of cotton.
To the West the sun is the same as the moon
in the dead of night,
a dollop of white, appearing one moment
obscured the next.
The fog returns to cover
The tide recedes back
creates a mirror in its wake.
I ask myself why I see only the sheen
but no reflection
Even in this have the magic hour reveals
what I do and do not know.
A hundred feet down the beach
I strain to se because there seems to be
two lovers huddled together staring out to sea.
A few paces more, and the pair that never were there
are a heavy round of wood,
an ancient Redwood tree
with no roots and no leaves
and even in this abraded state
will not cease to be.
My footsteps leave a sight imprint on the shore,
then I meet them returning, once more,
all too aware of how light I am
In a look down again I find
a baby's foot prints next to mine,
and see they make the same impression.
I hurry ahead to get around
the point of the cliff
where waves crash high already.
I run, glancing into the dark cave to my left.
I photo graphed that darkness once in the midday sun
when it was all mystery and romance undone.
This time I trudged up the trail
my heart pounding from the completion
of what I did not want to do.
Still accomplished my walk
and I was glad I did.
Wet as a field of grass in the morning dew
I emerged from the clouds of heaven
loosening my hair,
removing my heavy jacket,
shaking the grit from my tennis shoes,
over my shoulder the setting moon
in front of me another journey.
I was all through with fog.

Sharon Mayes