A Love Poem --for Kenneth Rexroth

They say you loved strong,
independent-minded women,
and I have always loved men
who loved strong women.
For you, love was a battleground.
You wanted to conquer love,
tame the wildebeest
with your flaming war cries,
and even all the Pacific
could not drown your yearning.

And all the women who loved love
(as I love colors)--
the butterflies, chrysanthemums and
"soft stars" as you called them--
loved love in you.
Their melodious selves sang to you
with arms like silver branches,
silk swan bodies,
gently craned necks,
and hands full of moons.

You stood on the shore
as far as the West would go
and planted pomegranates
and cherry trees.
But the sea is not a canyon,
and love does not echo back to us
but flies into dissolution on the horizon.
Only sorrow returns like the turgid waves,
a restless turning and rising and falling.

I saw you once, laughing on a silver screen,
up there, far away, the bright spot in the dark
with your abandoned white hair
against the green of your garden.
Love was a tree for you,
something earthly you could touch,
and even its ever-changing leaves . . .
you wept for them and
their impermanent beauty.
20 years now,
I still hear your deep laughter,
something you learned from
the other side of the world.
Your pacificist heart,
beating against calumny,
blowing up the machine in the end.

And I, forged from the same ephemeral crests,
long ago found Japanese writing on a wooden box
washed up on a northern beach.
With my eyes,
that you would have mistaken for moons,
I held those words like pictures,
those dark slurrings like
arctic terns against the white sky.

We--you and I--stood on the great Pacific Rim,
binding us forever with the East
through deep red flows,
that turbulent necklace of volcanoes,
the very birthplaces of new shores.
Our gaze met somewhere out over the ocean,
above Tahiti, by the Southern Cross
that has guided lost sailors for millenia.

And somehow I came looking for love
from that cold shore of stones to these pale sands.
It is the same moon and the same sea, but here
I have found one more soft star in the sky.


© Eskimo Pie Girl