They say that only children dream in color.
The world doesn't strike them, they are
sailing away and towards them
the deepening innocence that only fails
when earth becomes world and world
does not become us. In their dreams people touch
like a kiss or the sound of a calliope:
it's off-key rhythms forgiven to anticipate
the sweaty-hued clowns of their personal circuses.
For you it may have been the ice-cream man:
the summer rituals becoming a flower
picked for its discrete charm or maybe
because we want to remember it
before it remembers us. The things we want
reflect not our immediate desires
but rather a passage through which
the call our histories could take
to bring us home.
Your mother may have known that, too: in a tavern
we unwrap our facades, our definitions
of who and why, the indifferent differences
that keep us away from ourselves
and each other. She may have thought of you at school,
plaid pleated skirts and the nuns running
and running away, the furtherance of God's purpose
or their innocence long found and lost
keeping them going. She may have seen you at twenty,
miniskirted and knowing everything,
reefer, boyfriends, the angst felt and not felt
for the passing of childhood or the games
not played or won or lost. She may have seen you at thirty,
young mother, the nervous confidence
and your children's tears caught fast in an instant
and held like buds on a young tree
planted in the heart. She may have seen you
all at once, in a colorful dream
when she left.
When my mother died 13 people came to the service
not speaking to each other; a real or imagined
past, slights of rejection and anger,
the noble ignominies of a lost faith. I learned
to love from friends, lovers, the distant stare
my generations taught me gave way in inches
coming back like a poor relation taking
the best and worst from me. Loss becomes something
like a collection of insects, flying around
as we take and lose what is valued
only when something is given and found;
we miss those most who touch and hold
the fragile dragonflies of the heart.
And here we are the products of our selves;
what we are given is what we will become,
what we will become is what we have given
and kept, our identities only the ill-fitting masks
made by a tailor who lost his shop years ago.
In you it's the eyes of your children, your friends,
the momentary touches of color our dreams should have.
Keep them always; they will show you an infinity
that will come as a kiss when it finally happens.