by Richard Luftig

Summer Benediction

Now is the moment
when sun and shadow

make the best companions,
when twilight shows off

the beautiful faces
of sunflowers

wild in the fields.
It is the best time

for the tilt and gray
of old, dented drainpipes

that still drip water
from afternoon rain.

Then comes the hour
when blue-spruce

windbreaks allow
last sunlight to play

with peeling paint

of houses they were planted
to protect and where their long,

dark, branches allow
starlings and sparrows

to grow quiet
and call it a day.

And for the people
that reside inside

this house,
a prayer:

May the river that runs
this night through your sleep

be so narrow
you can skip across

to meet your best dreams
but so long and winding

that all the bad ones
simply disappear

around the next meander,
never to return.


In Japan, the alcove where flowers are kept

In April, when rains fall,
the camellia sleeps,
not yet a newborn,

its only destiny
to put down roots
in black, humus soil

of a tiny garden,
its only ambition
to make the alcove its home.

In June, sweet shadows
of trees protect this house
while flowers aspire

to be cut and gently
arranged in an ikebana
vase with peony,

and wisteria
in the tokonoma
with a hanging scroll

of long-lived cranes
that promise good
fortune, while in the next room,

tea steeps, so mild
that one can smell the water
and know its source.

But winter comes with quick-
darkened days
all laden with ghosts,

as a woman looks
out the window
with trails of rain

that move down
the glass and remembers
a time when she was young

and would create
flowers with her fingers
amid December’s snow.


Photo by Roberto Sorin on Unsplash