April 5, 2017

A Poem by Philip Matthew Butera: "Cottage"

Philip Matthew Butera grew up in Buffalo, NY, earned a BS degree From Gannon College in Erie, PA, went on to serve in the US Navy then received a MA in Psychology from Simon Fraser U. in Vancouver, Canada. He expanded his education with post graduate courses in Psychology and Creative Writing. He is the author of two books of poetry, “Mirror Images and Shards of Glass” and "Dark Images at Sea." His first novel, “Caught Between” – the true story of an off duty NYC cop who killed a mafia leader’s son is due out shortly. He is a contributing editor who writes a weekly Art and Literature column for EatSleepWrite.net. He also has a column in the quarterly magazine, Per Niente. He lives in West Palm Beach, Florida.



Flocks of ducks continue to pass over the blue lake, And the mild, late summer breezes are full of stories. Was this all part of why I have remained outside myself? The habitual waves against the break wall reminisce about childhood, And the white, puffy clouds are ageless in the unconcerned sky. Was I the same person who started, watched, and enjoyed the fire? The time was August; seagulls played and squawked, And the deaths of those we loved were distilling inside us. Was the numbness forever one with our restless blood? The cousins gathered all manner of wood for the fire, And we felt the emptiness not one of us could understand. Was I the only one afraid we had lost a common language? The bonfire mound grew with driftwood and tree trunks, And we could not stop searching for more; we needed more. Were the dragging and the labor part of the grieving? The memories became part of the journey for missing pieces, And a distance away, we found a large wooden door with rusty hinges. Was this to be the final offering, sending sparks as messages to heaven? The journey continued—so many cousins looking, searching, wanting, and waiting— And the process became the backdrop for all the sins man created. Was this group any less guilty for the grudging handing over of relatives? The lessons we would never comprehend, yet they would survive in us, And the blue merle collie herded us together, the connection to all that is valued— Was the decision ever made not to continue because we knew the penalty? The blaze roared, enthusiastic with all the forgiveness of life noticed through the flames, And we fed the hungry fire for hours, silvery moon and stars now on their watch. Was this the time even the youngest knew life had changed this was the final bonfire, The bewilderment of entire long tomorrows was now creeping toward us? And yet what we thought we imagined looking through the flames never quite appeared. Was now the full consecration of the door to be consumed for the night to end? The dawn overcame the embers, blotting out and overcoming all our explanations, And yet the hinges glowed blue and iridescent red, hinges in glowing, blistering coals. Was this a way to remember all the faults I had yet to overcome? I still don’t know. The family had found their beds in the cottage, and the quest shimmered like gold. And the fissures, the convolutions of everything I will ever love cast within that fire— Was the irony of my life born then, for I held a searing hinge and it opened in my hand?

© Philip Matthew Butera

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