Early morning, the trees silhouettes
against the dove-gray sky, I held
a cup of coffee and stood at the open door.
The air smelled cold, the earth damp
yet alive as the deepest part of us.
Forty years ago, the Friday after Thanksgiving,
in an old Chevrolet, my friend driving
the gray roads of a gray city, I heard
for the first time a confession that
like the branches of those giant elms
rose into both our starved spirits, and while he
held tight to the wheel I shifted in my seat
toward him. I heard the hum of engine.
I heard my heart thrum against his grief
that gave me joy, because, before another word
would be spoken I knew what I could offer.
I felt the windless terrain he needed, the unshifting
companionship that surged so deeply inside me.
He split himself open — to trust me, not knowing
what wilderness he might be facing.
Indelibly I held him in the listening, waited,
ready to hand him relief. And thinking of him
gone so long ago into the gray oblivion
I took the windless morning into my lungs
not sure whether it was grief, or joy
that held me there so long.
Multiple Pushcart nominee, Joy Gaines-Friedler’s latest book Capture Theory (Aldrich Press, Kelsay Books) is a 2018 Foreword Review Indie Press Finalist. www.joygainesfriedler.com