©image  Parker Stafford

©image Parker Stafford

I return in multiplicities

ancient riddles compounded by rhyme

whose reasons lie dreaming in mystery.

Heavenly syntax made vast and simple in one whispered word.


Living a thousand lives before

slave, king, thief, woman, mother, wife,

husband and son

all voices which speak to me across their times

their toil and challenges have all led

to this.


They each reach into me

their words like kisses

pulling me in closer

showing me their trueness

beyond all judgement


and reason.


I would not judge them

I may hardly know them

even though they are me.

I know

the way the moon glow

traces milky paths in motion and time

wrapping one mystery in another

undoing each as each procedes


in what we think is time.

They are vibrant and alive

even though their bones are dust

I can reach into their certainties

and dreams

like plucking flowers

fresh from a field.


All exist as surely as any other did

and shall

all hungering

for the conclusion of the phrase

that has been lifetimes in speaking.

A book of endless chapters

now condensed

like haiku

now into a a simple phrase

in total and complete summary.

I come at the end of it

a sentence,

a paragraph

chapter end

or book end

I know not which

but I know with certainty

of its finality.


I feel like the last word

on the end of their sentence.

I stand shivering and cold atop a great height

they all stand waiting for me to make my  dive

into the deep waters of destiny.

Everything bears from past upon this

and future is shaped by it

and what we do now

and how we are

what we will become.

A vast living canvas






and mysterious.


I want to say I don’t know how I could ever

be the end

countless souls shaping words

undoing themselves

so that I might stand here


ready to jump into that great sea

and I want to say I am unsure

that I want to honor their rich chorus

but I am not what they seem to want me to be.


The king shakes his head

“no no no, that will never do”

as the slave genuflects

“there is a reason why you are you”

and the mother adds

“All the things that will be”

and son adds

“all are resting in the sea”

They all cry that the sea awaits

a sea

unlike any other

from father king mother or brother

I am nothing if not stripped

as the waters deep and blue

surge like a lover waiting to be parted


and plumbed.

Their voices rise

as fear turns to welcome

Every birth is a death

and every death turns to its opposite.


But we all must in our way

find our toes wrapped

on the edge like this

our lungs breathing cold air

our hearts pumping molten blood

ready for this sea of love

to take us into her

that what we know within

we will know without.


I have been many

who have sought to live

their lives like riddles

their words mysteries.

The syllables of their lives

cluster and form

the grammar and conlusion

of a story strung like beads

a few simple words now

born from a thousand different lives.


I might return in multiplicities

but I leave in singularity

wrapped and rocked in this great sea

of me.

It waits for us all

when each word finds its sentence

and as each sentence

knows its end.