“An Ordinary Morning”

We left for the park a little later than usual,
My old father and I, though
We knew the war was on us. Blood hunger
Has an endless stomach. I wanted to keep
The morning from its mouth. He
Needed his walk to soften his joints.
And we had a daily appointment with the birds.

New green was peeking from the winter earth.
The birds who had not scattered to the forests after
The first detonations kept to their early-spring
Rituals. Like us, they were beginning to sing
Their spring songs and were making new ones.

We could not let war steal everything.

In the park, my old father, hobbled by an older
War, by worries over the evil let loose
Among us, found joy in watching the children,
Feeding the birds, and telling the stories
He never tired of—and for us who loved him,
Well, those old stories made a circle
Of knowledge and affection.

We bought a loaf of bread.
The baker stayed on to help keep the ritual of our lives
Fastened into place. Our genealogies of bones
Are stacked in the graveyard, and live
In the stories we shared this morning, the baker and us.

We will go on, even if there is only one standing
In a sea of blood and loss, one who will tell
The story of who we were and how we fought
For an ordinary morning like this one.

When the earth was beginning to wake
From its cold season.

Old father, you tore off a piece of bread
For the birds gathered at your feet.
They knew to find us here,
This park bench, this prayer of blessing
For the continuum of living.

The fire took you first, old father.
I was stunned.
The sun exploded.
Then I was gone, following you
The way I always did,
First with my eyes, then
When I learned to toddle:

A bird with breadcrumbs in its beak
Fled to the top of the closest
Standing tree.
My mother, your wife,
Was a girl again.
Then you left the wedding feast
As you walked hand in hand
To begin a story.

I was a thought in the shape
Of a spring flower
Emerging from a blood-soaked earth.

How we lived, and lived, and lived
And loved our living.

We did not want to let it go.

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