REASON OUGHT NOT BE THE ENEMY
Reason ought not be the enemy
Of myth, but rather its interpreter,
Showing one what else one might not see,
Hindsight to which faith might well refer.
Holding onto myth does not require
A blindness to what science has to say.
Salvation is not merely a desire
Hoped for in some long-outmoded way.
A myth, like art, sustains itself through beauty,
Not only true, but doing double duty
As both the cast of conscience and the fire,
Habitude no argument need sway.
THERE ARE NO WORDS TO SAY HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU
There are no words to say how much I love you:
Half my love might fit into a song.
In times of prayer I look for you to hold,
Reaching for you more as I grow old,
Taking, as I gave when I was strong.
Years have turned the tides of Being towards you.
Now my hopes are reconfigured for you:
In me there’s no bright dream for which I long,
Nor measure of my pride as I behold
Each day the grace your childhood foretold.
YOU USED TO MAKE ME SWEAR NEVER TO LEAVE YOU
You used to make me swear never to leave you;
Now you’re gone and will not tell me why.
I cannot guess what I have done to grieve you,
But if I have so much, then let it die.
What makes a love like ours blow away
Like a piece of paper in a gusty wind?
What makes it so impossible to stay?
What words or gestures might I now rescind?
Just as your love was once a mystery,
So now your bitterness I cannot grasp:
As if I touched your temples tenderly
And felt the twisted sinews of an asp.
Alone I face the cold, cold things you do;
I need your love to help me deal with you.
THE NIGHT MY HEART STOPPED
The night my heart stopped
I was sleeping with my wife
In a tent at the edge of a wood.
The Earth spun and spun.
Silent, in a cold sweat,
I felt myself going under.
I crawled out of the tent,
Careful not to wake my wife,
And onto a chaise lounge.
Under the spinning stars
My heart started and stopped,
Started and stopped, started . . .
I lay where a path emerged
From the wood, and along the path
Came a large raccoon.
He walked over to me
And raised himself up
Not four feet from my eyes.
We stared at each other
With focused understanding,
Words without words,
Eyes beyond eyes,
A giving and a taking
That stilled my raucous heart.
Satisfied, he lowered
Himself to the ground
And turned toward the wood.
“Thank you, brother,” I said,
“Thank you.” But he was gone,
Slipped back into darkness.
RETURN EACH YEAR TO TEST THE ANCIENT WATERS
Return each year to test the ancient waters,
Opening the unaccustomed heart.
So may you retain a Jewish soul,
Having given it its yearly outing.
Here your parents meet your sons and daughters,
A junction wrought by well-established art,
Severing the spirit from the role,
Holding in its golden words your routing.
All you’re left with is what really matters,
Needing, to be whole, to be a part,
At least this once a year a Jew of old,
Holy in this place despite your doubting.
HARMONY REQUIRES INNER VOICES
Harmony requires inner voices.
A year produces riches for the wind.
People find their chances in their choices,
Perhaps because they see much better blind.
Yet lovers find reunion in sweet song,
For music is the tide beneath their yearning.
Old years, like words, remain forever young,
Untouched within the beauty of their burning.
Reason with good reason sets the date,
Touched by time to pause and celebrate,
However deep the tumblers of its turning.
THANK YOU FOR THE HAPPINESS WE SHARED
Thank you for the happiness we shared.
Hard as it is, I keep you in my heart.
Any man I love must be like you;
Nothing less than what I had will do,
Knowing what I miss now we’re apart.
Yet our love can never be repaired.
Old feelings are like treeless roots that lie
Underneath the ground, where they will die.
Nicholas Gordon is a poet and the webmaster of the popular poetry site, Poems for Free at http://www.poemsforfree.com. He holds a Ph.D. in English and American Literature from Stanford University. For most of his working life, he taught English at New Jersey City University, in Jersey City, NJ.