Old Man As a Wall
I’m blind-ancient, blasted. What keeps my stones
leaning together, gripped by bruise-green vines?
Could these tangling vines alone stop my chipped
face from crumbling to a pile of white dust,
hold my scraped bits standing one next the other?
Everyone who has held me, tightly or just
out of obligation, down the years, is dead. Wind
shivs in the gaps between my cold bones.
Maybe it’s simple spite, defiance
of the young that keeps me standing
(I could flatter myself and call it will,
call it fierceness.) Or maybe
it’s fear–for I hear the sea always,
crave release, yet fight
being pulled into its arms and dissolved,
salt and lost memories where once my body shone.
I stand, an ancient wall of mute, blind stones.
I woke to that fierce beauty of the earth
that pierces—a crow’s ragged call
tearing a sky of wild blue.
That caw-caw!, that limitless sky–
I was back on Puget Sound, waking
in my grandparents’ cabin, running
barefoot onto the deck; spread
before me, the lapping Sound,
in the distance, the mad Pacific.
The beach was rocks, sharp shells,
squirts from geoduck clams; the sea’s
coldness sucked your breath, but I ran
every chance I could to walk its shore,
to daydream, imagine sailing in a miniature
boat toward that vast ocean,
drifting under a moon.
Lying on a patch of sand, I’d look up
and pretend I could rise through the thin
trees and step into the sky, into—or yes,
away from—what I could already
perceive life would be:
the hurt of beauty.
© Naomi Thiers
Naomi Thiers is the author of four poetry collections, including In Yolo County, and She Was a Cathedral (Finishing Line Press) and Made of Air (Kelsay Books). Her poems and fiction have been published in Virginia Quarterly Review, Poet Lore, Colorado Review, Sojourners, and many others. She works as an editor for Educational Leadership magazine and lives in Arlington, Virginia next to Four Mile Run with her daughter and cat.