Vox Populi

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Michael Simms: Dust

Sometimes I feel the presence
of the dead, only to convince myself later
it was merely a shadow moving on the far wall 
of my desire to see beyond the curtain
between here and there as if loss
were merely a matter of waiting
in a room for the return of love, a chance
to undo or unsay, but no
amount of time will bring back those
we’ve lost because they never abandoned us.
We abandoned them by staying alive.
If I were to die my father said
preparing his will 
and I wanted to say but didn’t, 
there’s no if about it. 
The only certainty is that life doesn’t last. 
We have a string of moments and move on.
When my daughter stands in front of me,
a grown woman concerned about my health,
I remember the child and my hand on her forehead
feeling the fever, a necessary excess of will
spilling into the world, and I remember
her diving into the deep end of the pool
in a game of Gator, swimming along the bottom
well below the bigger boys who tried
to catch her, part of the game 
continued even now.
And when my son lifts a giant wooden beam
over his head and holds it 
while the other carpenters secure the ends, 
the householder stands with her arms crossed, 
eyes wide, momentarily awed
by the magnificent strength of this one man.
And every one… my daughter caring for patients
in a small Botswana hospital, 
my son rehabbing houses 
after rehabbing himself,
their mother designing a playground
in unceded Mi’kmaq land,
the carpenters, the householder,
the woman laboring in a narrow bed,
even the child swinging high in the air
her shoes tied by love 
and pointed toward heaven 
will soon die and be forgotten.
And then it’s dawn. Unexpected
light comes through the window
with graceful possibility.
The distinct nothingness of my life 
suddenly seems glorious, 
a particle of dust dancing in the light
beside eight billion others
while outside, a boy glides by on a bicycle 
delivering the important stories of the day.

Michael Simms is the founding editor of Vox Populi. His latest collection of poems is American Ash (Ragged Sky, 2020)

Copyright 2021 Michael Simms

33 comments on “Michael Simms: Dust

  1. smithdaniell
    January 25, 2021

    very good. very very good. sentiments all fathers have. near the end perhaps. or just every morning. I turn 70 tomorrow.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. allisonfine
    January 25, 2021

    I love this. Beautiful, and gives voice to my own experiences as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. John Samuel Tieman
    January 25, 2021

    You have this amazing ability of being so gentle and so stunning, so poignant and so understated, all at the same time.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Vox Populi
      January 25, 2021

      Thanks, John. You’ve been reading my poems for a very long time, so I appreciate your insight.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Diana Elser
    January 24, 2021

    I so enjoyed the gentle bluntness of this poem, straight talk without a club, full of wonder and acceptance, devoid of complaint.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. abby zimet
    January 24, 2021

    and then it’s dawn: lovely. thank you michael. with a son in recovery/ after a long winding road at princeton getting his masters in architecture, what personally struck me: rehabbing houses after rehabbing himself. onward, all of us. take care

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vox Populi
      January 24, 2021

      Thanks, Abby. Yes, I feel like the country has gone into rehab after a long drunken binge of racism, corruption and fascism. Biden has a tremendous set of challenges ahead of him, so we need to support his efforts as best we can. Journalists and editors have a special responsibility to the public to spread the truth and counter lies.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Louise Hawes
    January 24, 2021

    “The distinct nothingness” of our time here –what an irreducible Zen paradox, and how luscious it is, lit up from inside your own life. Thank you, Michael. I’d much prefer to spend an hour curled up with your poetry than to squander it on “the important stories of the day!”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vox Populi
      January 24, 2021

      What a lovely thing to say, Louise, and especially significant coming from a gifted poet like yourself.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. williamtorphywriter
    January 24, 2021

    “Dust” exemplifies the power of poetry, where the very personal expands into the universal. Touching, revealing.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Vincent Spina
    January 24, 2021

    Stunning images: the one about the son lifting the wood is great

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Barbara Huntington
    January 24, 2021

    Why do I continue to be amazed at life, at death, at dancing particles of dust, at the brief gold in the morning between the clouds, at children, at grandchildren, at life, at death?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Valerie Bacharach
    January 24, 2021

    This is a deeply moving poem Michael. The back and forth in time, the movement among family, really captures how I feel about life, death, love.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. kim4true
    January 24, 2021

    Dear Michael, Those are special dreams when we get to see our loved ones. I haven’t had one of those in a while, but I always write them down. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. rosemaryboehm
    January 24, 2021

    her shoes tied by love…

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Daniel Burston
    January 24, 2021

    A very beautiful poem, Michael. Goes right to the heart of the human condition.

    All the best to you and Eva,


    Liked by 1 person

  14. Charles Davidson
    January 24, 2021

    Thank you, Michael. You continue to deliver the importance of words in a virtual and visual world hungry for more than the eye typically sees.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Beth Peyton
    January 24, 2021

    That was everything this morning.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. daninmaya
    January 24, 2021

    I love this poem. Among other things it brings memories to me of things I did as a carpenter, without fear or hesitation 40 years ago. Where did that person go?

    Liked by 1 person

  17. maddiemysko
    January 24, 2021

    Thank you for this beautiful poem, Michael. I am without words this morning. Maybe that’s why I am so grateful that, when you wrote this poem, you were not without them. It seems miraculous that they reach me through a dark dawn when I so need them. I’m grateful for Vox Populi too. Peace be with you and your beloveds.

    Liked by 2 people

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This entry was posted on January 24, 2021 by in Most Popular, Note from the Editor, Poetry, spirituality and tagged , , , , .

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