A POEM A DAY

I'm just happy to be here.

19/30: little things

When my dad would lose in backgammon, he grumbled
About luck, about both my brothers and my failure to adhere
to the updated rules of the game. I mean, the man justified defeat
Like a dying king in battle
And I believed in his brave wounds
Even when I did not see the foreshadow,
in how he salvaged small sorrow into a ship
like a sailor stuck in the sea of himself.
My father carves a life boat from each lesson
From each lesson, he rescues himself.

When I would cuss growing up, my mother would
admonish me, Zachary Fredrick! Do not cuss!
To which I reply, but my father is a sailor!
And she’d laugh where she stood, her eyes heavy with
the past,
and my tongue was a sail in the wind of an ocean I’ve
never been in

18/30: TASTING SPRING

Busy missing you — I have not tasted spring.”
-Emily Dickinson, from a letter to Susan Gilbert, April 1868.

Oak trees cloak the afternoon 
Like spring’s longest shadow.
With nowhere to go, each color
Grows larger in my head.
I save enough room to bloom,
for my coffee, for my mistakes.
I feel powerful in my perception,
picking apart the atoms of my affection,
fixated on the future
of my joy like a laid-off prophet.
The breeze flows without interruption
and I join the congregation of naked leaves—
both our bodies sway together
in the open bed of the afternoon.
How much further must I cave
before I say your name?
I’m in my chair
but I feel like groundwater.