paul Bluestein

Guilin, China

Across the street from my hotel 
stood Seven Star Park.
In the hour beyond the crackling daybreak,
I paused beside a footpath, watching
old men and women practicing Tai-Chi
as if they were doing some slow ballroom dance
with an unseen partner, while the morning fog,
like steam rising from the street
after a summer rain, crept around their legs and nestled in the grass.
The light breeze ruffled my hair and
I swayed with the rhythm of their movements,
so much like the flow of the bordering river and the swans
moving elegantly along with the current,
all of us part of the same dance.


The Only Constant

I used to think I would be the first to die.
I used to listen to windchimes without thinking of ashes
scattered by the wind.
I used to be able to read a page
without being kidnapped by intruding memories.
I didn’t used to spend mindless hours
staring at backyard sparrows bicker over scattered seeds.
I didn’t used to walk aimless miles, counting footsteps,
trying to quiet my mind’s jump-cut documentary
that plays mornings, evenings and matinees.

You used to say “The only constant is change”.
God, I hope so.


Walking with Chance

I wear a frayed tweed cap to shade my eyes
and sunglasses to hide my tears.
Dressed in an old overcoat, the cold does not seep into my bones,
but the coat can’t keep out the loneliness.
I walk the dog to pay attention
to something other than grief
and thinking about how small my life has become.
Years ago, I trained him to heel close by my side,
to sense every change in my speed or direction, 
to be hurried along on my impatient walk.
These days though, I let him guide me through his world.
Stopping to notice the water-worn rocks along the riverbank,
the saplings shivering in the freshening October mourning,
a heap of stained-glass window leaves
dying against a fallen tree.
I inhale all that the walk has to offer,

hoping Chance can lead me back to life.

© paul Bluestein

paul Bluestein is a physician (done practicing) and a blues musician (still practicing). He lives in Connecticut near a beach where he finds quiet time to think about the past, and wonder about the future. In addition to poems and short stories that have appeared in a wide variety of online and print publications, he has had two books of poetry published – Time Passages in 2020 and Fade to Black in 2021.

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