Leonard Lang

Taking of Measures

Some say there is much good
in the taking of measures
stone by stone,
and knowing how far between
we have been one from the other.

The question is not one of
mathematics or the distances
we travel for our lives,
though I have heard it said
you must go far to come home.

The question is how to balance,
as the number of days
always comes down to one,
and the lives all around us,
precious as stars,
will in their time also
vanish from their unsteady place
in our days.

Yet lately I find I am counting–
sometimes it’s the steps from
home to lake,
seeing how much the number varies
this day to the last, and sometimes it’s
the leaves of the autumnal path,
adding up as many as I can in a minute.
And at night in bed,
I do my best to sum up
all the words I have spoken
that matter, but always fall
asleep well before midnight
when the invention of zero begins.

How You Lived

This morning
when the bees are hibernating
along with all the creatures
you imagine you could love,
you may sit down by yourself
and recount how you have lived:
how the marriage couldn’t have been helped,
how the money came and went,
how the children were and weren’t,
how you found yourself flat on the ice
staring up at the half moon so clear,
no one hearing you cry out for hours,
nothing the same since,

and by now you’ll notice the snow
has started again,
and your stories are shifting
like water under the thickening ice,
like people behind the dark windows,
and you will stop saying you
and start saying things like
it’s time for lunch. And you will
remember to eat the foods
you have eaten for years,
and you scan the headlines
for news of people you will never know.

Sound of the Sea

Thoughts arrive
that no one else hears
until we present them
like pearls in seashells
we just came across
and sometimes barter
for friendship and love,
each shell housing
one thought
and the sound of the sea
where it came from,
the sound we must never forget,
which is why so few of us live in the desert
where seas are few and
remembrance is hard and harsh
sun upon sand,
which is why all of us seek ways
to carry the words
of our lives
wherever we go
in the fragility of shells and bone,
holding whatever it is we think
we must be or must know,
which is nothing at all,
the sea of sound rising and falling
in silence.

Leonard Lang is co-editor of BoomerLitMag.