by Maxwell Redder
A Father’s Roof
Terracotta tiles lain on bamboo stalks;
fired earthen rain protectors, decorous
and new. The roof of past was treacherous
due to brilliant swoops of egret flocks
landing, loosening grass ties as they gawked,
waiting while others caught up. Cankerous,
thwarted surreptitiously; cancerous,
the rotted old roof was carefully doffed.
Worried father assuaged. Revitalized,
his rhapsodic children played happily
during monsoon. No drips dribbled inside,
no buckets placed to keep cloth dry between
wash days, no moving tables rapidly
in heavy rains to avoid leaky springs.
Terracotta tiles gathering exhaust
and algae form a stunning patina
of clay to gray to yellow and green, a
testimony justifying their cost.
Spotted roof moon reflections and a moth,
big-winged flutters, scanning the arena,
chose a delicate landing between the
lowest tile lip and hanging gutter trough.
Twenty years and a beaming grandfather
rapt with carelessly bouncing youth imbued
in all days new, his love strong like solder
to copper. Age avoids crumbling rust. Proof:
while rain may aptly, violently ensue,
a family is as strong as its roof.
Terracotta tiles streaked in colored ash,
weeping with drizzle, flash dazzling rainbow
glimmers into procession line eyes, though
the sun seldom broke clouds, crazed rays would crash
into reflecting phlegmatic beads stashed
behind a cliff of grime; ecliptic glow.
Rigidly tucked between palm and elbow,
a garnished stretcher with body and cask.
Colorfully scented death celebration.
Incense, precious flower baskets carried
by laughing children; holy cremation.
Proper tradition burning flesh and bone:
soul transcending as smoke and sky marry,
vanishing above viewers and their homes.
Ripples in the Rain
– for “Ripples” the dog
The rock head was the last thing swallowed
by the meandering tide as a Canadian bald
eagle waved farewell, disappearing
into the ferns. The vibrating
water surface is like the sun-cracked
skin of a weathered alcoholic, a first generation
American more inclined to drink; a missing enzyme
and backlog of slaughter.
Moon marionette: water lumps pulled
as slithering ripples slink the opposite direction,
as if weaving the ocean a cap to protect all
her intricacies. Immaculate loom.
Popping up between the threads, three seals
dance in a circling triangle, contracting closer
as if to kiss, they neatly disappear. What is that diving
bird who has learned
to swim like a fish, submerging with a perfect ten,
reappearing a minute past in my peripheral?
What are those charcoal clouds advancing with the wind?
Under them are streaks,
long and entangled like jellyfish tentacles,
procuring a vast plain of divots upon the ocean’s top.
Wet breath. Observing from my covered deck,
ripples in the rain.
Constant gray mist hugging
Malaysian aircraft; visual tension.
Ascension. Flatness. Trust
betwixt foot and ocean.
Feeling light and entangled
Descended. Taxied. Incense
smoke from shrine offering
(freedom begs attentiveness
garnished in tranquility).
August mannerisms captivate
trusting wind gust as light
and freely as tumbleweed.