A small island forms the focus of a small pond,
both bordered by light gray stone
each stacked in its own place against the press of earth and time
and the way that water has of trying to bring both together.
A small waterfall spills into the curving line
that ripples from the heart in the center,
bound by more stone and gurgling its way
into the larger circle of island and pond.
A Japanese maple over twenty feet tall
rises up above all else on the island—
small trees with lemon-colored leaves,
a few reeds, and low flowers blooming in the last of June.
Beyond a similar stand of small trees
bordering the edge of the pond,
large hardwoods lift long, swooping branches,
locusts and oaks that shade the curving walk.
In the low light of morning,
the water reflects both shade and light,
shadow and stone,
and the already brightening sky.
An orange bridge arches over the water,
where a man older than these trees
pauses for a while, hands spread against the rails
as if trying to hold something in place for a moment.
He leans out and over, held lightly by wood and steel,
looks beneath the face of rippling waters,
and feels there something of a young boy
curled up beneath a pile of sleeping cats,
safe in the sun and held in the heart
of an old galvanized washtub
sitting on the back porch of a two story brick
built before the Civil War in southern Kentucky.
The man looks down through the long years of pain and hope,
trial and blessing, love and laughter,
aches and tears, and many days of long work,
sees that small self from nearly sixty years ago,
“Sleep well and warm for a little while longer,
take a little more time to dream and believe.
This is going to be a good day—for both of us.”
When old men dream dreams
and young men see visions—
that is always a good day
and nothing good is stirred
without a few ripples.