Journeyman

by Sri Upadhyay


The journeyman waits at the old bus station
in the middle of the New Mexico desert
for one bus, the same bus, in the red clay South,

When his feet touch the steps,
he crumbles into dust
that a woman gathers in Colorado.
Each day, every day, without fail

Fine, red powder,
mixed into paint
for her pottery.
This piece is special,
it holds ashes of a love.

But when the warm, wicked, west wind,
tips the jar, he carries with him the ashes,

Sprinkling them with raindrops
that tease a child’s corn silk hair
in Nebraska,

In these sweet spring rains,
tears have no place,
you cannot tell the difference
between a droplet of
joy, laughter, or pain.

Even the strongest of men can cry
without fear or shame, and let go.
No one will ask if he regrets his life.
It is only his secret and the rain’s.

These waters bring together, in California,
both the young and the young at heart.
All great loves are born of this magic.

And when such bonds are tied by nature herself,
the west wind obliges with a loving caress,
sweeping through the spaces between
the fingers of these fragile hearts,
leaving behind the scent of pine needles and juniper leaves.

When the skies clear, the summer dew makes everything green,
and brings color to the mountains. The birds know what this
means. The crisp bite to the air, says it is time, and together they
band their feathers, cradling a newborn child, to bring her east
to her mother.

My dear daughter, this is how you came to me,
one Sunday morning, four summers ago in June.
I tell you this story, so you will know, I love you,
and so you will always remember.


(Previously published in Luna Negra Magazine, 2011)

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