Sunday, March 2, 1997

A FOOT ON EACH CONTINENT

 
A FOOT ON EACH CONTINENT
                        For Charles O’Neill  October  30, 1926   to January  22, 1997

A man caught between the old world and the new,
straddles the fine lines that time offers up
at the death of the father
and the preciousness of life becomes a gift daily given.
He asks, “Without a regular supply of grace
is one left in the ego… just to wonder why?”
I have no ready answers, The orb of the sun
sinks into the small of the back: Inverness Ridge
marks the equinox, and Tomales bay shivers—
caught between the tug of time
and the milk-pale moon rising over a salmon-hued ridge.
He says, “This land owns me. I’ve lived here before,
maybe as a Spanish padre.” His talk of monks alarms me.
As if I’d suffered enough in a past life at the hands of a priest.
I shudder, someone walking on my grave.
He says, “Tomales Bay could be back home in Scotland.”
Steals small bits of the bay’s soul with his camera.
I imagine the monster beneath the waves.
We take shelter in a copse of bay trees,
where, on my birthday, he conjured the face
of a shadowed bride, and contemplated
the relentless of mindful of living.
We watch the the earth’s shadow swallow the blue moon.
As we round the tump, the goats let out a plaintive cry
of recognition, of long lost kin claiming us like children
lamenting our passing. The loss of the father
buried in the sacrificial richness of tall oat grasses,
they nibble at the scotch thistles curling about our feet.
Already Neil is shimmering, an apparition
having been taken captive as our ancestors have done,
surely, for centuries on end. Reilly and O’Neill
on Irish battle fields, thickening blood ties into saga and legend.
The wind luffs and lifts his kilt as I raise the camera to eye level.
I will never see proof of this moment trapped on film
for the indelible ink of memory has tattooed it
onto the chambers of my heart for safekeeping.
In this, everything becomes practice for saying goodbye.
The goats are sorry for our going away,
but soon they will drop their heads to the grass,
continue on with the business of living.

            3/23/97  Palm Sunday,
            Eclipse Moon rising just after the Vernal Equinox, Marconi Station