A gathering of brief moments on earth by Pamela Porter

The bells fell silent; only wind
rang in the empty towers.
The ferry’s horn blared into the cloud
that brooded on the water.

Some of us dreamed it before it arrived.
Waxing and waning, the moon
marked the time, the dead in the dream
summoned not by name, but by number.

And the days collapsed
into a dull order
in which some remained alive,
and others embarked
on the perilous journey.

Yet those of us who remained, lived
into a ruin — sirens roared for the sick,
the dying, who wandered out of their bodies
into the realms of stars.

Month after month carried an undertow
of grief. Much shattered that could not
be put back together.

Solitary in our solitary rooms, we spoke little,
lit signal fires and peered out to sea.

From visible to invisible, the dream
awoke as dreams do, while branches slept
and nudged each other into green.

And the delicate membranes
burst, and leaves unfolded as if
it were a normal spring.

The cherry tree blossomed, and the apple.
And roses bloomed. By the second year
we laid stones to mark the path of the sun.

And the bees remembered their labours,
and birds knit their nests, strand
by strand, and the horses found the grass,
a greening so tart it stung our eyes.

And many who passed over in those days
were forgotten, who did not forget us:
their spirits entered our rooms
and watched us as we slept.

The living could not fathom
that the dead spoke in language
which rose in air as minute
bursts of light.

And daylight shortened, as it will,
and spiders overnight stitched their fractal
nets and gathered the dew.

And in an unkempt corner the sun broke into colours.

Hours we stood watching a fire
flare on the mountain, smoke
rising as the spirits of our dead
rose toward the moon’s bright sickle.

On the path leading to the field, there
in a furrow you nearly step on a snail
lugging its house toward the underbrush.

You pick up the snail and set it
in a patch of green, because the house
is infinitely delicate,
and there are years yet unfathomed
to be lived.

— from Juniper Volume 5, Issue 2