C.N.P Poetry 

  • Cathexis Northwest Press

The Knowledge of Light

By: Rex Brooke


I walk the old road toward my boyhood home where you are dying. The road cuts still remind me of ocean waves. Moving again under them  The two lane road leans against Yellow eroded sandstone cliffs, hieroglyphs  of cracked brown loam after a year long drought.  Past the Taylor house where the road bends and the sliced earth exposes the blood red roots  of the manzanitas hanging  like snakes or  unasked questions, still lethal  in the air. We used to swing on them, scaling these same sagetop hills pretending Tarzan, Superman, Peter Pan any man fearless, immortal. Immortal. I’ve walked this road a thousand times. Never the same. Never like this. Once past the Taylor house, the road opens wide into the sunlight.  the  once magic jackrabbit flowerfield is now scrapped flat  for 400 or more  homes, And I, the surveyor’s son  note   the grade stakes predicting the cut and fill; calculate  the centerline for the new road, the gutters, sewers and  sidewalks, the house  pads for the future families,  plotted, predicted, bench marked against buried monuments,  longitudinal lines, magnetic flux, and eventually, the cold north star.     You taught me this map makers language of trigonometry, of the elegance of permanence in Euclid how to trust the immutable angles of intersections, of the engineers’ knowledge of the porosity of earth, of the calculus of what bends, of what breaks, and ultimately, how to  force  perfection  in a labyrinth of things unknown . Now you lie with your lips cracked as exposed clay,  twitching to the consciousness of faces your can no longer name,  the morphine patch on your exposed back, maggot white, the catheter bag filling with blood.  Within hours you will be dead. What is this  road we walk upon? Euclid was wrong: What we can’t hold  eventually Is what shapes us.


Rex Brooke is a retired public school teacher living on the west coast. "The Knowledge of Light was an attempt to dislodge the grief of my father's death."

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