Ultimately everything comes to us in this way –
splintered, broken, with jagged edges, gaps
in the tape, long moments of silence, bursts
of static, electrical storm, bluegreen banners
flung across the sky, unmoved, yet changing –

and it becomes our task to reassemble,
to connect, to bring together again in ways
that never were, that cannot be, these shards,
fragments, forgotten scraps of song. At best,
from the strewn universe, a stay of brightness.

So when I saw among all others dancing there
in last night’s dream, this inordinate woman –
those willow-green eyes, that sinuous turning –
and woke from such trancing, speaking her name,
anguished, sensing that she was gone forever,

I knew that what I had glimpsed had not been
human at all: that step, that lambent grace
instead called forth the presence of a tree
I had known once, and lived near, long ago,
then later learned had been cut down and burned –

that vanishing showing me how ultimately
all loss is the same, how it underlies love
and makes life possible. A phoenix creature,
this tree: entering the realm of the broken,
the utterly transformed, it became knowable

in the flames of sleep. On waking I prayed:
let me be broken by the power of vision,
let my last clear memory sink to ashes –
lost in that rising and falling, let me
complete my task, become pure conflagration.

Others turning at that moment may see
the heavens filled with unfathomable light.
All will be forgiven in that shining,
each will know the other again, hearts
once more ablaze and interchangeable.

© 2005 Jared Carter