“Three A.M.”, “to my friend in mourning, ten years later” and “Prayers of the Righteous”
– Poetry by KL Johnston –
Nothing good ever happens at
three a.m., nothing I ever
prepared for. And you are not here.
In this early hour, the phone call
leaves me weeping at the sudden
heaviness of my bones. A car
coughs in the dark, into silence.
A moment more I tell my strained
senses. Wait. It may all be just
a mistake. I am left frozen
with the question I finally ask
myself at 3:08 a.m.,
bewildered, angry and alone
when I should be warm and deeply
asleep, merely waiting for your
home coming. How do I live now?
Awareness of a stranger’s tread
on the front walk creeps like snapping
ice along my spine. Shivering
at 3:20, wiping my eyes,
blowing my nose, I rise, still not
prepared to meet this messenger
opening my door to a new world,
an alternative universe.
to my friend in mourning, ten years later
I don’t have any more fancy words.
I think I’ve used up all the good ones
and you’ve heard all the platitudes from
everyone else, but I still want to
tell you how the first rain of winter
slides through the last bursting gold of this
year and how the smooth silver winter
regularly comes and you should not
be afraid, or cower away from
the crackling silence turning the year,
with its shivering expectations.
I still want to tell you that life and the
celebratory four stroke beat of
our earth’s heart is going on and will
go on, maybe without us someday,
but beloved, un-rued, and never less.
And there will be a new year as long
as the moon rises, the sun tosses
shadows and our home is a golden
blue blur, all celestial. Because
it is imperative to me that
while you continue to live, you live
more than this half-life you are choosing.
Prayers of the Righteous
Previously published in the Heart of Flesh Literary Journal.
On the Sunday after our first child’s birth,
you went to the country church up the mountain,
wowing the tiny congregation
with your classically trained alleluias.
They begged you to return, not knowing
they would never see you again,
that your bon homie was just a part
of the upward spiral before you crashed.
They promised to pray for you and your new family.
I wondered when you died
if those good people kept praying
for that odd stranger with the voice of an angel,
who came among them and took away a fleeting hope,
who never returned because that’s the way
you met the world, searching out praise
and doling out disappointments.
Over the years, was it the prayers
of those simple righteous folks
that kept our children safe
from your version of nurture,
from the nature of your disease?
When you slipped away from their memories
and their last murmuring prayers failed,
when your glorious voice was forgotten in sorrow,
is that when you could let go,
and we all came to know peace?
About the Author – K. L. Johnston
K.L. Johnston’s is an author and photographer whose poetry has appeared in numerous literary magazines, most recently in Wild Roof Journal, Humana Obscura, and the anthology Botany of Gaia. She holds a degree in English and Communications from the University of South Carolina, and her wide-ranging interests contribute to her writing. She is an ordained deacon and teaches on contemplative practices and is also a certified lineage researcher and speaker. Happily retired from a career as an art and antiques dealer, she devotes her unscheduled time to writing and satisfying her curiosity about places and people. She’s passionate about her garden, a good cup of hot tea, and 85% dark chocolate.
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