Cathexis Northwest Press

© 2018 

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The Knowledge of Light
00:00 / 02:38

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





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 


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."