IN THE AFTERWORLD I ENCOUNTER ALL THE THINGS I'VE LOST
Mark L. Anderson
Vultures lift into rotten egg wind in this desert
of the afterlife, guarding my still spit-moist
retainer. Straight teeth don't matter here, but it's
on top of Platypus, my stuffed best friend. I miss him,
his fur all matted like Bud, the mud-colored mutt
we rescued half-dead, two-thirds blind, mewling
with her paws trailing red in the snow. Abandoned,
ugly Bud. Bud who just disappeared. She's here, barking
at a blue cooler, wagging up dust. The dust is really
paint chips I peeled from our front porch last summer,
turning the deck ugly, exposing it to rot. It's fun
to peel the paint off like a scab. I'd do the whole thing.
Stop barking, Bud, I'll open the lid. It must be
so dark inside that cooler where we put
our captive grasshoppers. I forgot. Went inside.
Those vultures are really robins, I can see them now.
They're the baby robins who hatched by my tree-house,
who I climbed up to and pet. Their bald heads are really
cracked blue eggs. I knew their mother
might leave them to die them if I reached my hand,
but I still did, giving them small,
soft strokes. What could it hurt?
Bud, I remember I wretched, opening the lid
of that cooler— bugs baked in the heat.
It must have been so dark as the grasshoppers
writhed over each other, kicking to leap
against the plastic walls and lid with a click, click,
click that must have been the biggest thing they ever knew.
The Day Was Found
And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed until the people had avenged themselves upon their
enemies. Joshua 10:13
The day is found. It was returned to us and the gospel was revealed
in a hard wind filled with dust, bones, pollen and hair.
The moon dust glazes over our eyes as it is struck by the sun.
The rain comes from the west, virga showing her skirt, pushing us
like small grains of sand. The sadness is like the grit
in the bottom of the bottle of wine – settled but lingering with bitterness.
Who will be present for this journey? Who will go with me into the echoing canyon?
Who will stand with me in my own light? Who will lean with me into the dark,
while I cover my eyes with the blankets of sorrow?
The rules of my tribe are vague.
Hold onto the earth so it will maintain its tilt.
Throw things into the river, rocks, sticks,
Gaze often at the sky so as to assure yourself
the sun is not standing still.
Smile at strangers.
Our eyes are prevented from seeing God.
The chosen path, singled out, deliberate,
Amazon of joy, island of depression,
Cyprus, the navigational pull controlling the human path
down the arm, the gap between brain and planet that is the hand,
moon and stars of deep grief, stroke damaged abyss,
the grand canyon of tumor, gunfire to 25,000 genes in the brain,
100 billion neurons.
Trial by ordeal.
Not dead but lost.
For someone, today will be the end of the world.
For someone today, it is the end of the world.
The sun is a clock. I am standing in my own light.
Cats are not clocks. They sit. Close, open, close, open, close their eyes.
The day is now. Today was the exact day. The day of cosmos and sunflowers.
The day returned to me.
My search begins
on the river bank
where ice clings to cold earth
at the river’s edge.
The ground is frozen beneath my feet.
Changing course I see patches of snow
blanketing the hillside
where muddy mounds of leaves and twigs
make walking difficult.
Rain begins to fall first gently
then in torrents mixing with my tears.
Like a retreating soldier I turn back
but a voice in a gust of wind reminds me
to find the first buttercup of Spring for her.
Some Things I Wanted to Tell You: One,
I went driving by the blue house again, I know
it’s self-torture and the same eggplant curtains,
same moth-bitten neighbor smoking under the porchlight
looking at me like he wished he could have done something.
I’m sure he saw us that night. You
spiraling in the snow
gasoline on your breath
trying to make us blossom —
at the bottom of the hill
where the trees thin out and it’s nothing
but intersection, I saw a small doe step gently
onto the road, obviously lost and yet unflinching
like she was in a dream. I just wanted to tell you how strange
it was to stand in front of that empty house.
Even the flowers are gone.
Old man winter sighs
With elongated goodbyes
As spring shows her face
Celebrate with crocus friend
Tulips remain shy
Sunshine has fallen
Earth sings sweet hallelujahs
As new spring returns
I’m only 14 inches tall / There’s biodegradable material covering important parts /
It will fade away and I will become / a part of the greater system / I will become a
giant version of myself / Movement is easier, until then / I am miniature, now / The
process has yet to begin / Resource availability is an important factor to the viability
of my success / At this point, I am vulnerable to so many possible consequences /
Being dwarfed by those who have come before me is very real / But, if their support
were removed / my sustainability would be threatened / They carry me to safe
spaces found in between / My survival’s most reliable away from the extremes / I
feel the warmth of Mother Earth and grow mature with Father Time / Until my
roots take hold / I’ll need help to stay alive / Support structures roped to me / keep
the wind from causing too much sway / I pray the one who set me up helps me fight
summertime’s hot sun / with a little more than natural rain / Others have made it
organically / Jealousy would be ridiculous since I never would have / existed
without someone else’s assistance / The least I can offer is to provide a lasting
legacy / The pair of hands that released me is not / expected to last as long as the
product of their good deed / With a little luck, I will make it / to better than 100 feet
/ with oh so many rings
tug of war between winter
dark soggy nights
yanked into temporary sunshine
snapped back into steel grey clouds
daffodils, tulips and gladiolas
in my yard cheer me on
and help me remember
my skin is not gore tex
and my feet are not blundstones
“it will not always be this way”
the earth whispers.
I fear that in the future
winter will win
the bravery of spring
You strong and courageous woman,
set down your shield of shame
take off your trying
let go of your loneliness
and come and soak your sorrows away
become the burn of your skin
and let the weight of the water
wash you whole.
You were created by the Master himself
look around you wild woman–
the trees are transforming, the sky evolves and the birds continue to fly!
sip the sweet mountain air
feel the mist cling to your eyelashes
notice how it is easier to breathe right here. right now.
As you lay here with your heart and soul open to the sky, baring all you have
don’t forget that you were made
of wonder and whimsy
that like the mountain sky you are never done.
while you may feel like a dried up and lonely tree – be patient.
Your roots are energizing. Your spring is solid. Your passion untamed.
but here. now.
soak the sadness from your bones.
feel the fear drip away.
trust the timing and the truth
and when you are reminded
of who you are
revel in it.
the river does not stop becoming because it meets a rock.
it reroutes. it revamps. it rushes on.
this is your reminder- that like the river you will not stop.
You may rest.
You may reflect.
You will rejoice and be renewed.
and as your body temperature rises-
and you feel the flicker of the flame deep down
take another moment to breathe in
the wonder of it all.
and when you rise and leave this sacred place —
leave all that no longer serves you. but please, please
don’t forget to embrace all of you
as you enter into the
magical adventure that
has been waiting for You.
Ella, age 9
And the robin sings
In the spring melody
An instrumental tune
In the air
Comes with the blossoms
The delicate petals open
Barrett DeMoville, age 8
Springtime is in the air.
Butterflies are in your hair!
You see a fox in its lair,
but the bear does not care.
Flowers are blooming
and bees are humming.
Grass is growing
and sunshine is coming.
Trees are growing growing green.
Birds are flying on the breeze.
Squirrels are walking -
No more snowing!!
Spring is waking!!
Odessa White-Neff, 6th grade
Flowers blooming on asphalt
Petals ruffle, curling, preparing,
For the grand entrance, all await it,
They wait, watch, as she straightens her stem,
And positions her leaves just so,
And she bursts up, awake, at last,
Ready for the warmth and light to tickle her feet.
The passing child dares not pick her,
The hungry rabbit dares not come forward,
Caterpillars and aphids avoid her leaves,
For when was the last time you saw her,
A beautiful flower,
Blooming on asphalt earth?
A rose, just as healthy as yourself,
Blooming on asphalt?
The roots dig down,
Past the hard rock, to the soil.
Her leaves stretch up, happily inviting
The other seeds to join her.
And soon there will be a garden on the asphalt earth
Flowers in my Rib Cage
There is a flower growing in my rib cage
Its roots grow down to my stomach
Feels kind of funny
There seems to be a boring flower in my rib cage
It keeps getting taller
It grows up inside my neck
There is a simple flower in my rib cage
Its roots dig deeper
Feel them in my legs
There is a nice flower in my rib cage
It justs keeps getting taller
Leaves rest against my teeth
There is a lovely flower in my rib cage
Its roots wrap around my feet
There is a mean flower in my rib cage
Its keeps going up
Petals poke out of my eyes
There is a ugly flower in my rib cage
Going down to my to toes
There is an angry flower in my rib cage
Its shoots up and out the top of my head
There is a deadly flower in my ribcage
Growing up and roots digging down
There was a garden in rib cage
I can see all of my garden
My springtime garden
It keeps on blooming in my rib cage
All of spring keeps taking over my rib cage
Flowers on my left
Flowers on my right
Flowers when I look down
Flowers as I fall up
Flowers over there
Flowers over here
Flowers, flowers everywhere