On most paths in my life
there are places to rest,
giving me a chance to gather courage.
I can resume, or not, as I wish.
Not on the trails of pain.
I’ll not do those who stumble
along with me the disservice of claiming
it any further by naming it.
There is no place to rest,
no place to turn back to.
Yet for all that it is one path,
no one walks it with me.
Others on the path see me,
cry for me, pray for me.
So it is that my path
is lined by trees that mock me.
Then I see trees in the hills
that bring me much hope.
I then see only kindling
for one last flame of frustration.
I see bones stripped
by a wind that never ends.
It may happen that I
drag my pain through a desert,
or along a path by a great sea,
waves counting out my heartbeats.
But all I see
are the lines chiselled into my forehead
and the lines hammered at the corners of my mouth.
All I see are talismans.
Each cross, each crystal,
each star or feather or stone.
All I see is the knowledge
of no going back.
No chance to share the burden,
no end but death or life,
There is a trash man
that follows behind us who walk.
I picture him like a person in a park;
large blue bag slung over one shoulder,
stubble of cigar jammed in his mouth,
long wooden rod with a nail sticking point down.
He walks slowly stabbing everything
we thought was so important, putting it in the bag.
Snag a thick portfolio of stocks;
countless key rings to large houses and BMW's;
clothes from the Gap, diamonds and emeralds,
silver and gold, platinum and rare china.
In the bag.
I imagine that the farther he follows us,
the stranger the trash we leave.
A lucky rabbit’s foot, a rosary,
a tattered picture, names of the dead.
A cheap locket, a strand of hair,
a pocket knife.
Then there comes a time when
things start to thin out.
Now we are to the real things.
A letter asking or giving forgiveness,
the last will and testament of a life.
A flower sealed in wax paper, a wedding ring.
Or maybe the offerings end long before this.
I wonder then if he dances a little jig
to celebrate finding the end of pain is not always death.
Or does he know the path will resume down the way?
At the end of his shift or millennium or life,
or when he tires of the burden of carrying our treasures,
what does he do with all the fine shiny golden useless stuff
he has carted so far?
Does he keep them and pawn them,
or has he learned what is most important
cannot be carried, or lost?