The old country

They say in the old country
that lighthouses are for keepers;
better make your own way.
They say eyes are like knives piercing your heart;
better stay low and move fast.

They say in the old country
that hopes are like lovers;
better check your promises.
They say dreams are fragile
and fall from heads like autumn leaves;
better watch your step.

They say shelter is for beggars;
better nail your secrets to the wall.

Diptych for a late Spring

I

You are meaningless, it is said,
without those who went before
in whose long shadows you strive,
in whose helix you twine
inextricably.

Ghosts, you call them,
wraiths with no claim to substance,
until, in a mirror,
you see them bounding through
your fate,
great feet tramping up the path
you thought was yours alone.

How can you be so like them?
How can it have gone unnoticed
so long?
Is nothing left to separate you?

II

Fine, let’s have it, then.
I’ll be the last witness
to poll the seasons.

But you’ve lost your will
to power, haven’t you?

Would you think your
reflection grotesque, off-putting,
if you saw me now?
Would you see an empty mask,
devoid of all you held dear?

As you wish.
We are both powerless
to divine our true meaning.