Crawling Through the Grass of Grief

A Poem by John Lee


As I crawled through the tall

grass of grief I saw so many

interesting and disquieting things.

 

The priest asks us to bend our knees

and pray but doesn’t he mean crawl?

 

Crawling makes us indistinguishable

from nearly eight or ninety percent of life.

 

Ants crawled right by me yesterday

on their way to work.

 

Ants don’t take off Christmas Day

anymore; they used to when they were pagans.

 

Beetles crawled over me as I

wept my way through the tall grass of grief.

 

I heard one say “that is the first human

I’ve seen here in a long time.”

 

“Yeah,” said his partner, or wife, or son.

It is hard to tell who is whom in the beetle world.

 

“Most just go down as far as a bending

knee asking the new God to bring back whatever was lost.”

Ancient Paths

A Poem by John Lee

previously published in The Dragon’s Letters

 

Geese know the ancient path

their parents laid out for them

in the sky.

When horses are born

the first thing they do is walk,

even if their legs are like water.

Animals seem to know what to do

when it’s time.

 

I remember the first time

a woman said, “Let me hold you.”

This was a path I could not remember.

I turned and twisted my body like a

colt leaving the birth canal.

Finally I fell into the deep grass of her arms.

I lay on my left arm

till it went sound asleep.

Unlike the newborn, I didn’t care if I ever

stood on my own two feet again.

Ophelia

A POEM BY JOHN LEE

A baby’s pink and shy blue hydrangea
sit like colorful lions guarding
her steps that were made out of
field stones.

The porch was, as we say here
in the South, wop-sided to
begin with, as much of life down
here is.

The whole house sat on these
same kind of stones just high
enough for old dogs and children
to crawl under to play and sleep.

The woman who lived there,
I am pretty sure her name was
an old Shakespearean one—Ophelia
I remember you now in your bonnet.

I remember your kindness to my
frail grandmother. Unlike hers, your
back was built by long hours
chopping and picking the cotton at ten
pennies for a pound.

I have no idea why you came
and visited me this morning
during my writing time but you
have been remembered and you are always
welcome to join me again.