Passages—in memory of Jack Myers

by Marian Aitches

One by one, birds fly through the wide hall
             shadows on fire lit walls
             brighter than the night outside.
A swallow soars in by the south door,
traces high rafters.  Open sky.
The time it takes to pass to the north end,
span of a life, so said a poet centuries ago.

Dia de Los Muertos at Mission Park South
             We speak with Grandma in her grave.
             San Antonio light spikes across waxwings
             roosting in cedars, trees of the dead.
1896 1986.  Symmetry in numbers, balance of a life
ridiculous chrysanthemums in a pock marked urn.
Mama cries.  I rise like a note in a song.

Life, the dash on the headstone,
             space between the birth of light
             and the night when her spirit flew.
Standing here, who will know the stories?
The grandmother who lived like a hummingbird
drunk in a hot pink ocean of penta flowers.
What can a dash say of the music she made?

The day you died a white bird drifted into
             my kitchen, circled away into night;
             bones begged for a come with me
             but the spirit said stay.  I am here with you.

We will drink red wine under turning trees, remember
leaning back to back on October porches
chrysanthemum explosions on the west wall.

Another swallow high in the eaves reaches
             the end of the noisy hall, laughter
             of men at full tables stopped by a poem
singing fallen heroes and radiant ladies about to grow
dim with grief.   No.  We want something more
songs about joy, more hours reciting the light
before dark calls the monster inside.