The Knowledge of Light
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
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
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
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."