Friday, October 26, 2012

The Echo of What Remains

The Echo of What Remains Collected Poems of Wanda Lea Brayton

It is the way to soulfulness,
this severing of heartsongs,

these wretched silences
when rhythm deafens our ears
to the echo of what remains.

We love even harder
because we have loved before -

we gained before we lost,
no matter what shades of sorrow
grieving weaves
within our parched bones.

We give abundantly of ourselves
to what we adore,
hoping the gift is enough
to restrain madness -
yet, dreading the outline of shadows
that beckon life away from our outstretched arms.

We paint our words with light,
yearning for it to reach our eyes
and steal the darkness from our voices
that long for reprieve.

We linger on the periphery,
more spirit than substance,

trying to fill our flesh
with more than the passing sounds
of autumn leaves. 

Perhaps Redemption

The Echo of What Remains Collected Poems of Wanda Lea Brayton

Beneath the angry breath of a convicted moon,
hung with condescension, I lay sentenced, 
growing in the dim light of your arms.

There is nothing to keep us here
but each other's swollen, red-rimmed eyes - 
nothing to teach us
but silence.

We are far beyond the cradle now, 
waiting for the mourning to commence, 
yet, we reject its sardonic pith -

we choose, instead, 
to burrow into the sweet soil
of a well-nurtured orchard, 
bearing the fruit of our loveliness,
unforgotten and consumed.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Offering

The Echo of What Remains Collected Poems of Wanda Lea Brayton

Give me the stones
from your shoes, Beloved.
Let not this path become weary
from your emboldened stride.

Open your palms to these auspicious mornings
and allow colors to tremble
from your fingers
as divine mergings awaken.

Be soft upon my mouth
as you linger near this place of sanctuary -
we will call the evening mild
throughout the storm.

Trust what we know to be truth undeferred
beneath your subtle glance -
terrors of the night will not tear you from my side
nor will the ecstasies of the day deter us
from evolutions we will claim
beyond these walls of silence.

Give me the stones
from your shoes, Beloved.

Let me grind them into ancient dust.

Old Lovers

The Echo of What Remains Collected Poems of Wanda Lea Brayton

Old lovers drag their burdens, 
rattling rusted chains behind them, 
deeply scarring floors with memories 
(or is it simply wishful thinking on our part?)

In the night, I hear their moans
(or is it my own voice I hear, perhaps?)
as they wrench and tear their garments
in grief that will not give, 
only take from the moment what it will,
what you will allow them to gather, unrepentant.

Why will they not leave us in solitude,
to remember the life we once held sacred,
instead of turning and returning
to haunt our days, to wreck our nights?

Temperamental creatures they are,
these reminiscences of how and what we thought things were,
not who and where they became 
as time invariably passes and passed.

With our daggers unsheathed, we dance in Sanskrit,
melding words to images, as if attempting 
to add a delicate etching to a mighty, solid sculpture - 
they need no adornments, no fragile tithings.

Leave them alone, once and for all.
Move on, you creatures of habit, 
with your forlorn eyes staring into the distance -

move on, forget, be silent.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


The Echo of What Remains Collected Poems of Wanda Lea Brayton

The artist writhes, 
then rises from his simmering,
gathers sprigs of sage to feather his nest
and remind him of the desert.


The Echo of What Remains Collected Poems of Wanda Lea Brayton

— Inspired by the poem "Boy and Egg" by Naomi Shihab Nye

He is riven by the delta's whirl,
unable to disengage from the sandbar's grip,
his currents lost to an unknown tide.

He understands 
the secret language of Spanish moss and pleads 
for magnolias to fill his eyes once more.

Beneath nascent loam, his roots are tender,
seeking anchor.

Trailing through dark waters, his fingers 
discover sharp edges of shells, 

once containers of life, 

now bereft of a single notion
or an ocean's small sigh.

He weeps quietly as the moon rises in silent song; 
a burning wave of salt flows across his features
as if in afterthought, his sextant mislaid, perhaps even forgotten
as he remembers the seasonal paths of stars,

sculpting geography of countries he's never seen.

History, Seen Through Her Eyes

The Echo of What Remains Collected Poems of Wanda Lea Brayton

As he turned to go, he whispered 
"I can never write you whole"

it was spoken through perforations of history,
those ragged splinters cleft between two hearts.
their stitchings ragged with effort and futility —

one last thought offered 
before the wretched sinking 
beneath the waves of a drifting hand, 
a quiet "fare thee well", 

a final letting go.

The old oak door closed heavily, 
a soft click of the lock, its punctuation —

silence sat in the corner,
its head bowed. Nothing moved —
not even shadows.

The sea had never seemed as subdued,
nor the rain as tender, as those first days and nights 
without his presence filling this small room.

His coffee cup sits on the counter,
waiting to be warmed  
("please, just once more"),

to be held between his rugged, sinewy hands 
as he stared through the window 
at what lay beyond, 

somewhere out there 

where I could never go,
where he knew I would not follow.

Sometimes in the morning,
before consciousness fully arrives,
I reach across the empty bed for him,
forgetting he is gone —

and then memory and gravity return,
clutching my fingers.


The Echo of What Remains Collected Poems of Wanda Lea Brayton

My non-exact words were 
"there aren't enough archipelagos in poetry", 
so he sculpted a few more
along the pale, pulsing map of my skin,

strewn somewhat contrary to north and south,
a warm convex beneath our hands, 
particularly partial to the oddly resonant sounds 
carved and echoed in our ears by rising, crashing waves.

We succumbed to shifting sands,
falling in splendorous disguise 
and opened a bottle to share, nonchalant
about our intoxication for each other's fragrance.

He needed no further encouragement -
it was already implicit in my dilated eyes.
He leaned forward, brushing the tide
of hair from my shoulders,
then sought my mouth with his own - 

the day was fiery and reckless, 
braided and branded into the sky by laughter.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


The Echo of What Remains Collected Poems of Wanda Lea Brayton

Long have I contemplated this swerve, this curl 
where thrumming so often swells -
bony fragments and ligature safeguarding the essence of life,
those quiet nuances and gestures of both laughter and tears.

Perhaps it is only a physical manifestation
of undetermined origins -

or maybe it is a slowly returning memory 
of once-forgotten wings.


The Echo of What Remains Collected Poems of Wanda Lea Brayton

The sphere tilts, 
spinning fire and flood 
beneath its autumnal awakening 
while yet we sleep, inebriated.

We roll through remnants of space,
unaware of gravity which keeps us here,
intact and solemn.

Reply to Yeats

The Echo of What Remains Collected Poems of Wanda Lea Brayton

Inspired by "A Poet to his beloved" by W.B. Yeats

Your fingers gently turn the pages of my existence
with silken intentions of navigating each chapter,
tenderly memorizing each line,
each nuance and gesture of ink spilled across this parchment;

I am your liquid library, your private source of knowledge and fire,
rising upon waves of wisdom, lowering myself to your mouth,
exhaling slow wildernesses to explore. 

The blue seas of your eyes lifts my wings from beneath my ribs 
as we soar beyond vastness of jagged russet shores. 

We vibrate, vibrant and bold, cautious and mild 
beneath boughs whose leaves curl inward,  away from storms we seek, 
every golden-etched moan an unfurling of gently whispered words -

a lithe dance sighing between wind, wheat and bud
as our songs are laced with tide and sand,
bearing memories from shells, ripened fruit 
to sustain our pale, moonless touch.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Creating New Language

That these hands have held so much 
so close to a silent, stuttering heartbeat 
and then simply let go, 
is beyond stupendous and shattering - 

it is affirmation of survival
and its incipient courage.

It is an unfurled flag fluttering boldly 
beneath the heft of fog.


The Echo of What Remains Collected Poems of Wanda Lea Brayton

We are ripe for the precipice,
heavily laden on the cusp of virginal despair,
held aloft by a single breath shared - 
don't let go of my hand 
and I won't let go of yours.

Moments of separation slip through unnoticed
until we open our eyes in the midst of what we thought
was a dream and see we are falling fast
with jagged stones waiting beneath,
memories of what once were mountains,
now become hardened tears.

"If only" are two words sighed in regret, head in hand,
far too late for the salving of wounds,
long past the point of erasure for scars 
we never meant to inflict -
stop. Think before you speak.
There is no going back to the moment right before
the hammer, the axe, the scythe descended upon us.

Graft these words to your heart and memorize their sound.
They are all that stand between us
and the gaping mouth of the world.


Flight is precious to those who are earth-bound;
we see this unending sky and covet wild wings
we do not have attached to our mortal frames, yet still, 
our souls soar beside the fragile bird who lingers, aloft.

Steadfast, we long to seek those radiant realms
where moonlight swirls without falling; we drift
beside quiet streams and imagine the sea.

We are creatures of gravity,
soliciting the stars.


When the light in my eyes no longer reflects the sun's slow repose,
when my smile will not lift when you pass my threshold,
when my fingers cannot compose another phrase 
from the deep, fluent well of my many-chambered heart,

then release me gently,  
for I am already on my way 
to a finer, brighter place.

Do not try to retrieve a breath that will not be bartered.
Do not weep over my shell as though I could hear or comfort your grief.
Your tears will only make the river rise against its banks
and make my crossing much more difficult to bear.

Just loosen the knotted moorings and let me drift
to that distant shore where pain is unknown,

where laughter rings freely beneath buoyant clouds
as kites find their own way, without a tether to hold, 
far above those gnarled branches that would bend them
and keep them, aching and bound.

Come Mourning

As sorrow clawed through my veins, I became immune to starlight -
shuddering beneath this eclipse,
submerged in savage waves crashing slowly against my heart.

Terrible tides consume my flesh; my mind surges,
swirling through chaotic currents - I can no longer taste my own salt.
A morose mosaic with missing pieces,
this shattered terrazzo tears beneath my feet,
a mere pariah without recompense or resolve.

Nothing can mollify this descent of dusk -
there are only lilies that have not yet been gathered,
strewn solemnly across the field where once we knelt,
our alabaster skin shining with dew.
In your absence, I am fractured.

These thorns of silence attempt to thwart my grief,
but I will not be moved from this curled corner, wrapped in weariness.
Darkness arrives unnoticed, without a wisp of sound.
This is me, letting you go.


Cooler days have opened our windows once more.
The breeze is bright and welcome.

Sparrows flutter about the ledge, hopping on individual bricks
as though playing a sort of hopscotch, perhaps seeking 
answers for what resides within their limited view.

One prongs the screen with his tiny feet,
head bobbing in confusion, wondering why
there are no trees in there, no waterfalls, 
no gardens from which to sup.

I speak to him softly, 
so as to not startle him away.
He listens closely, but does not answer
except in song.

The sky grows intoxicated, 
dew rising from grapes we've pressed
from tender vines, merciless in our gathering.

Never Goodbye

The Echo of What Remains Collected Poems of Wanda Lea Brayton

When your last poem crashes
into the shores of my soul like a rogue wave,
I will incline myself and dive into its offerings,
knowing there are jewels awaiting those who strive to go 
beneath the shallows and into deeper waters, 
trusting the tides to carry them back home -
I will not fear the darkness or the light that stretches
above the slow currents as mist.

When my bare toes dig into the soil 
and plant their roots in the edges of your well-tended garden, 
understanding such seeds will take more than a moment 
to rise into bloom, permeating the air with their singular fragrances, 
to flourish, unmatched by any other flower's grace.

When Autumn comes in her inevitable way, her arms wide 
and succulent with the comfort of an Indian Summer,
I will watch the wind curl its fist tighter with each passing day - 
as the leaves chatter and spiral-dance, evoking your memory, 
I'll whisper your name for each bright ember that reaches, 
each wisp of smoke that lifts into the sky, seeking its own thunder.

When I miss you (and so I shall), I will softly sigh 
and pause to remember that you are still here, 
still vibrant, still a part of every molecule we breathe...

yet, when I hear a wooden flute's more dulcet tones, 
a tear may form within my eye, unbidden - 

I will not wipe it away, nor bow my head.