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  Bethany Powell

Published on: 1/14/2013
In Harmony with Ghosts

I have been up the thousand steps
Not for blessing, but to follow those before
Who maybe in earnest prayers, maybe flippant hope
Walked up these stairs since the temple was built four hundred years ago

There is something sacred in their footsteps and mine
On the same stone, though in such different shoes,
Just as the air by a pine is sacred with its bite
And the sound of a bell rings the heart, and is holy.

Let me walk up this way with no expectation
Just the dream of being part of this ancient place
Let my knees creak and thighs burn, and my breath
Rasp in my chest on that eight hundredth step, like yours.

Published on: 1/11/2013
One Morning

when we wake up and your fingers curl back from mine
and I relearn the smell of you
since I've been dreaming
though we laid so close together
and the sun is too eager to make us smile
and runs in the window
highlighting my puffy eyes
and making sootmarks of your beard-roots

whether you kiss me after stretching,
just go start the coffee,
or spend a few moments in motionless wondering,
there will be a laugh waiting for us further in--
further in the day, in the year,
in the life that waits before us
empty stationary like a hill
rolling down from our feet or up as a mountain
for us to climb
and I'll stare at your back, amazed.
Because this tomorrow came.

Published on: 6/28/2012

There is something dark back there.
It's the most hidden shrine, on a neat square of land
All filled up with holy stones and walks for tourists,
Where the bellrope is grimy but never too old
And all the gardens are open-faced.

This is not like that.
Back in the wood that rambles a little wild
Where there's a shortcut to the smaller bridge,
Just a footworn path and a crowding of trees--
Maybe it is the most ancient.

Maybe it is the most fresh, a newly built throne;
You can nearly hear the slow breath of it
Where at other steps to the screened tabernacles
The only breath is your own, your neighbor's, the _bouzus_.
It is for sure the smallest.

So you see how close you can walk by without hearing it,
You think of asking a classmate if they know why it is there,
And you wonder just who goes to offer those fresh sugarcakes
At the shrine arms-length deep and wide, on a little rise of land
The most secret place, and the prettiest, and most dread.

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