Tidal Pools


     You, My Child

     Measure Me



Tidal Pools

Tears, like all prayers,

trickle down

to the sea, 


where they mingle

with salted sorrows

of ancient seasons.


Each holy drop 

sanctifies the deep

and vice-versa,


mutual immersion,

a recompense,

a communion.


Tears, like all prayers,

find their way


Tall thin waterfall from Rickets Glen, PA





     Our fathers’ science 

     reduces my selfhood to widgets

     a model, a machine, 

     idly ticking clockwork,



     Our mothers’ religion

     renders my body a shadow

     a slut-shamed sleaze

     a clay model, a precursor,



     Our daughters’ science 

     consecrates wholeness

     First Light made mortal meat,

     cosmic wind incarnate, 



     Our sons’ religion

     marries meat and mind,

     a sweaty pungent monument

     a galaxy, a destination, 

     a symphony. 


     Grandchildren bathe in sunbeams

     dichotomies barely memories

     of ancestors’ primitivities;

     all space here, all time now, 

     singly One.




JD Stillwater with a brown-skinned girl on his lap, maybe 8 or ten years old. She is asleep. They are sitting at the sound board of a nighttime public event, perhaps a concert.

You, My Child


In the grainy old photo
the hazelnut satin of your cheek
nestles softly, perfectly
in the pink-pale curve bridging
my shoulder and face.

The photo chuckles of how
your body far outgrew the you in my mind,
and I hold you like the much-smaller child
who still sleeps in my memory,
easy, loosely, longingly.

Oh little sister,
that longing aches as if
I had birthed you myself, as if
I could subdue all the monsters
around and within and between us,

and it marshals all my will not to
squeeze you back into me
for safety
for beauty
for a better time yet to come
for us both.

But you have parents of your own
and I have children of my own
and though I count you among them
those others are waiting for us,
for my awakening,
for your blossoming
for our grandchildren to hold
the easy gaze of each other’s eyes.

My child,
we are both children of Africa
here by two roads that diverged on a plain,
each a bloody trackless rut,
each exacting awful tolls,
each of us missing
some essential pieces.

But here in this photograph,
this moment of ease and comfort,
the deserts are crossed
the seas are stilled,
the shackles rust away, and
we are whole once again
for one sleepy moment,
a pregnant fullness moment,

and a longing that remains.


Measure me, oh Maker.
Measure me at three AM,
in the shower, on the road,
during breakfast,
making love.
Pour me steaming into pyrex,
discount my meniscus,
jot me in your margins,
plot me on logarithmic axes.
Stand me barefoot at the wall;
lower the boom to kiss my crown,
while I stretch my spine upwards,
heels pressed down tight.
Lay me bare upon the balance,
heap diamonds on the other pan 
until scales slowly tilt to even,
while glittering carbon glares enviously across.
Submerge me in Archimedes’ tub
where delicious warmth
caresses my skin and runs over
splashing “Eureka!” on the tile.
Press gently the pulse at my wrist
silently counting the tides, the eons
your lips absently forming the numbers
of ancient currents inside.
Let me feel the cool tailor’s tape,
the backs of your practiced fingers
on my rib, my waist, my hips, my
whole being tingling, blushing.
Calibrate these calcium bones
against the limestone bedrock
articulate tendons from depths to peaks
and back to an ocean of stars.
Determine with vernier sextant
my molecules’ angular alignment
with the infinite Soul’s arrow
from Then through Now to Then.
Take my measure, dear One.
Show me again and again
I am both ocean and rain
stone and starfields, infant and ancient
fleeting photon and untracked cosmos.
Take my measure, dear One, 
and deliver me 
beyond measure.