To the Pre-Adolescent Boy Stuck on Top of the Climbing Rock
We´ve all been marooned
on an island of terror at one time
or another. We´ve all sought
refuge in our coiled shell
of a body, been tossed about
by a wind that wore its impatience
like some flashy pirate´s garb.
When I was your age, a pack of us
armed with explorer kits and splashy
imaginations crawled into a cave-
like opening, yards from home.
I was the only one who screamed
and screamed, convinced the narrow walls
were crushing my life into a pitiful pile
of remains, skeletons were dancing
a derisive jig on the stage of my follies,
or at least that´s what I glimpsed through
my tears, the same swells thrashing
your dignity every time you peek over
the edge. Ignore the younger children
scurrying up and down the rock,
their triumphant chirps. I, too, went
limp on the flash-quick tongue
of my friends´ laughter yet endured
to assure you, forty years on, that hollows
eventually belch out defiant children.
That no, you won´t be condemned
to spend the night outside, prey
to the owls and rats of your father´s
threats. Though he´s been circling
the base for hours, all fins, teeth
and suspense music, all ravenous for
home, remember that in his youth
even he must have been blindfolded
by bravado, jostled to the edge
of a challenge, and at the last hopeless
moment, implored his various gods
to unleash rung after rung of salvation.
Say the day steps out in an ensemble of wind,
hurtles you backwards seconds before a branch crashes
onto the path, inches from your feet. Say the wind
nestles your cheek, slips its whole body into your
dimmed memories, those times when, like a high note, we´d
rock it out on the vibrato of God´s hymns, your
eagle soul perched on the verge of your future,
larger than a soar of prayers.
Say an eagle appears, gliding on the wind of your hallelujah.
Don´t ever pluck the feathers off coincidence, son.
Sometimes, an odd sparkle in the dew-swept grass might
lead you to the coin or trinket you´d thought missing
among the scattered days of your life. Someday, you´ll
understand the planes I´ve traversed to say: don´t let my
goodbye gala trip you up like a crack in the sidewalk. No
hill of grief is too steep to scale, once you drink from
the glory cupped in heaven´s hands. If you´re lost, know I´m
everywhere, in wind, tree, dew, and bird. I´m here, watching you
rejoice in a world spun on the axis of my love.
Julie Weiss (she/her) is the author of The Places We Empty, her debut collection published by Kelsay books, and a chapbook, The Jolt: Twenty-One Love Poems in Homage to Adrienne Rich, published by Bottlecap Press. Her “Poem Written in the Eight Seconds I Lost Sight of My Children” was selected as a finalist for Sundress´s 2023 Best of the Net anthology. She won Sheila-Na-Gig´s editor´s choice award for her poem “Cumbre Vieja,” was named a finalist for the 2022 Saguaro Prize, and was shortlisted for Kissing Dynamite´s 2021 Microchap Series. A Pushcart Prize nominee, her work appears in ONE ART, Rust + Moth, Orange Blossom Review, Sky Island Journal, and Wild Roof Journal, among others. Originally from California, she lives in Spain with her wife and two young children.