You take me down long roads dusty with grief
and show me: "Just there. The water used to fill a little pool
and spill over: you could cup your hands beneath."
I cup my hands beneath. Your shoulders rise
with hesitation now, born of pain so automatic
that no joint moves without a grimace. Still
I pull the whole arm up straight and reach behind
for a spot that's hidden by the scapula else,
I let my fingers settle into the flesh, like
the bare feet of a happy four-year-old
in wet beach sand. I ponder the empty feel
of the house: I ponder the echo and the silence.
I heard the beginning of your apology
for not being cheerful. Forget it. The gift
of good cheer is cheap: use it once
and throw it away. The gift of plain suffering
is a gift that will guide me in the parched hills
when all else proves worthless. This
is the gift I came for: this is what my hands drink in
when I cup them under the little stream of light.