Monday, September 23, 2013

POEM: By the River, by Penny Harter

This is the final day of years of sweetness.

You have been gone a year.
The taste of you has stayed with me
these twelve months, your honeyed warmth
lingering on my limbs.

Today, I sit on a floating dock by the river,
listening to the faint hum of insects as I enter
a rippling that flows from a center
I have yet to find.

For your last meal, you wanted sweetness—
lemon sorbet in a paper cup— and I watched
the nurse spoon it into your waiting mouth
as if you were an infant, watched you savor
a sweetness that would carry you out.

It is autumn again, and the trees have begun
their fierce burning. Remember how we
walked through scarlet and gold, stooping
to pick up the best of the fallen? How I sent
some to my mother just weeks before she died,
sealing them in an envelope with the kiss
of my saliva?

Today, I give our sweetness to this river,
send it out on floating yellow leaves
that flicker on the water like candles
for the dead.
© Penny Harter

            From Recycling Starlight, in-press with Mountains & Rivers Press, 2010.