Tuesday, May 17, 1994

Aveenu Malkenu

Aveenu Malkenu

Aveenu Malkenu, my father my friend.
Unconditional is your love;
unsoundable your kindness.
For all you have done, peace be to you.

Aveenu Malkenu, my father my friend,
like a warrior of peace
yours is a tree of life,
and happy those who hold fast to it.
Proudly you stand in fertile soil.
Humble roots firmly planted,
trunk gently bending in the winds of change
and branches reaching,
you point the way towards the stars.
Your noble stance suggests an ideal
balance between earth and sky.
You connect grounds of reason and stability
to space of dreams and passion.
If ecologists could see into the core of being
and read there a story of life
recorded in rings of growth,
they would find fifty-six concentric chapters,
tracing most humble beginnings
to fruitful present.

Guide and vessel in unsure waters,
you are my navigating hand.
The parted waters
and the dry land.
You have set the example,
matching form and essence
word and deed.
O sculptor of flesh and blood,
O companion of the heart:

Had you brought me into the promised land
but not consecrated a temple of security, Dayenu.
Had you blanketed me in warmth
but not sent me through the gates of Wright, Dayenu.
Had you given me an education
but abandoned hope after Mother's passing, Dayenu.
Had you continued living
but not continued loving, Dayenu
Had you given of yourself
but not believed in the future, Dayenu.
Had you encouraged my dreams
but not supported me in failure, Dayenu.
Had you bedded my fears
but not pushed me to excel, Dayenu.
Had you wanted the best
but not cared how I obtained it, Dayenu.
For this legacy and all you have done, Dayenu.

Once more cradle my hand in yours,
and let us return to the chosen asylum,
that pebble laden pond of our youth.
There, our small saucers of rock
carefully chosen for flight
shall continue skipping, perhaps
never letting the water catch
and swallow them down.

Let us return again
to that bed-time fantasia,
that fabulous never-never-land of imagination
Let me run to you once more
and climb your trunk
and swing from your branches
and eat of your fruit
and dream in the shade of your gaze
like so many times before
just before slipping into the land of nod.
Aveenu Malkenu, more father more friend
let not my seed fall far
from your giving tree.

Do not let us go apart.
Let not the bridge we form,
a crossing of hands and souls
tumble to dust.
What if memory should not be enough
to guard your voice's smiles,
your eyes' laughter,
your brow's bloom
and the imprint of your warm embrace.
All of you that is dear to me,
Aveenu Malkenu, my father my friend.

Neither builder nor blacksmith
I would like to make you a poem
that isn't one.
Words fall heavily from my hands
blunt unfaithful tools
betraying meaning.
Nor constructor I
stacking beauty
stone by stone,
word by word
in aspiring form.

I fear slipping into Babel,
and losing you in a labyrinth of lines
from which these Daedalus thoughts might not escape.
I am an architect without plan
building structures of word,
without rhyme or reason.

Dare I, Dear I
Continue to offer
these words of a feather,
flocking across pages of blue
too hollow to ring true.
Carrier pigeons,
bearing messages from the heart
in a pitter-patter vocabulary.
A coded language,
filling in the flat lines
with a syncopated pulse for you;
it's message barely audible,
and rarely understood.

Lay aside your science,
it won't help you decipher
this cardiogram I send.
Instead, close your eyes,
press your ear to the page
and listen
to the two beat measures take flight.
Let them course directly to your veins;
from my heart to yours
a glad gift, a transfusion of love
for all you have done
Aveenu Malkenu, my father my friend,
peace be to you.


Thursday, May 12, 1994

CWA Paean

I walk slowly through the front gates and up the road that encircles the campus. For fourteen years I knew no other world than that encompassed by this not quite circular strip of pavement; it was the horizon of my entire universe, the known and knowable world.

As I look around and back through the past, I realize that at one time or another during those fourteen years I explored every corner, every nook and cranny of this campus. Though now empty and quiet, in my mind it is filled with the faces, voices and smells of the past. The playground still rings with savage shouts of triumph from a time when a slide was a dark mountain to be scaled, and a sandbox could contain an army of orcs. The fields, with their heady smell of fresh-cut grass, or slick with rain, seem filled with countless soccer balls from recess pick-up games, to summer soccer with Gil, to a state championship hanging in the balance of a shoot-out.

Walking past ‘the bubble’ gym, now the dome, my stomach unconsciously tightens as I remember the long process of weighing-in and waiting to step on the matt for a week-end wrestling tournament or weeknight meet. A light breeze over the gravel parking lot, gives me the same puff of freedom and invincibility that came with having a car, but also the bitter-sweet chill of taking refuge from middle school dances overcast by the salty tears of unfulfilled desire and heartbreak.

With each familiar step I tread, the nostalgic reverie drowns me deeper and deeper. Walking amidst these shadowy memories, I feel somehow lost, caught between student and alumni and comfortable with neither one.

I have seen the sun rise on the Charles Wright campus, and I have seen it set. I have passed weekdays and weekends here. I have stood at the top of its ranks and received its highest honors, and I have knelt and dug in its soil. Over fourteen years I have seen brothers, teachers, headmasters, friends and classes fill and empty the halls of Charles Wright Academy, and now I realize that I have come and gone as well. And as I scratch at my name engraved upon its steps, the steps our class helped to rebuild, I can only hope that one day I may return to Charles Wright all that it has given me.