Summer Nights

I sit facing the window to the West.
I watch the sun drop into the Pacific,
just beyond my ken,
lighting San Francisco as it falls,
its last rays lighting the towering eucalyptus that frame my view.

Suddenly, on a wave of grief,
I return to a balmy summer night
on the shore of Lake Michigan,
brown summer arms 
swinging from the top arc of a Ferris Wheel,
sniffing languid air,
floating above the beat of music,
young people dancing at my feet.

I return to the darkened room 
in which I sit.
The memory, gone.
The grief, remaining.

       Mary Elyn Bahlert  05/2020

Flying Friends

The tree is empty,
except for red berries and full, green leaves,
until you come, bringing a friend, your partner,
one Saturday morning.
You chirp, check out the territory,
dancing together, on and off the branches,
one inside, then out, the other outside, then in.
Must be nesting time!
(Is that what you’re thinking?)
Will this be home?
Are the berries good?
Are we safe here?

I sit, still as a plant,
afraid to move, watching you,
scared you’ll fly away.

Mary Elyn Bahlert 5/2020

If the World Hadn’t Stopped


If the world hadn’t stopped
its incessant orbit,
its frantic motion – one day to the next –
if all the people hadn’t halted their wars,
their value counted in barrels of oil,
I expect I wouldn’t have seen the sun brightening, blue by blue,
or known the smell of the morning air, fresh,
as I go sniffing like a cat
to catch a whiff of what has gone before.
I would not have opened my window, grateful,
or wondered at the sound of humans calling into the night to give thanks.

I expect I wouldn’t have stopped midday to pray,
my arms lifted beside the lonely tree,
its branches lifted, also, in gratitude
for the magic of the sun, the sky, the dusk and dawn.
We would not have murmured together at the light
of the lilies at dusk,
at the quiet that hangs over the morning air,
at the call of the crow hoarding its bounty,
all of us inhabitants of this magnificent earth.

Mary Elyn Bahlert, 5/1/2020