Original Sin

Original Sin
Originally a tribute to Rachel Carson on the 50th anniversary of her death

I was given, at my first birthday party,
a gift sublime, a lovely, lush garden
I played among its fonts and flowers,
traded baseball cards with Atlas and Athena,
rolled in high grass with iridescent dragons
Then one fine day through leaflets high,
I spied a fat juicy fig, haloed by Summer sun
The tree was poison, I knew, its sweet fruit
most likely bad as well, but in my arrogance
I climbed the trunk, got tangled in its branches
I lost control, lost something never truly held,
and fell, through viney snarls and vicious thorns
Fell farther than I ever rose, to putrid death,
moldered slime beneath the canopy
of verdant paradise on gentle hillside above
I crawled about in mud and earthen warrens,
slowly, year by year, learned to walk again
But arrogant I remained—had not my lesson learned,
and so I doubled-down,made mockery
of this chance for redemption
All the sweet virgins did I rape,
and teach our children sin,
in crystalline waters I did shat,
mulched fields, amber and green,
with cigarette butts and baggies
blowing listless on Autumn winds
When Winter finally came, as winters must,
to kill off weakened souls, and make
the garden ready for new guardians,
I did not learn, I did not take the blame…
It’s Him, I cried, I have not power to do this!
But then my youngest daughter sobbed
She watched, sadly, out clouded windows
and, looking up at my limpid, sullen eyes
crawled into my arms one last, lonely time
to face what I could not—Behold, the Silent Spring
~AJ Mayfield 2014

Death, Sin, and Other Trivia

The watchful gaze shone down,
and then the blade, deep and swift…
Made even gentle bloodied sunrise,
too terrifying for my eyes

Days in hiding came to nights where,
sleep superfluous, I slept not…
Until I shed that sacrificial skin,
now poisoned, now unholy, now thin

And seeing it no longer as my own,
I marveled at its hoary creeds, barnacles…
Its gruesome rust of well-intentioned lusts,
turned water swift to clinging mud

Now free of age, of sins partaken,
a naked Adam in a sweet garden…
Timeless, weightless, a sanctity of soul,
natural man, new-made, now whole

~AJ Mayfield

Senses

He awakened to soft gonging from the guest room at the other end of the upstairs hall, and to intense darkness. It rang four times, but that old clock kept terrible time….

To continue reading, please go to Senses in the Menu

The Belled Gate

An empty urn,
the barren bowl,
a vase awaiting
one pregnant rose

A table barren
of knight’s tableau,
stools surrounding
in retched repose

An earthen mug,
Pan’s pool in spring,
a coin no longer
worth its weight

Each grounded in its
reason, spherically
precluding its sin—
That ringing at the gate

A life-lived-not falters,
yet blindly clings to fate,
blind Themis holds in
balance still, the cup—
She chose too late

~AJ Mayfield

But a Moment to Grieve

What happens the first instant
after our world’s end
Is everything still, the pendulum
that lost its surly swing

Does the carven clock sit idle,
not quite enough cuck
to manage one more koo—
But still there’s something left

Or is it a different sort of spring,
not then unwinding fate
But coiling tightly, tighter still
until it snaps, breaks free

Destroys the maker’s hand,
rips down the veil of heaven
And damning every prophet,
sheds wild starlight, wand’ring still

~AJ Mayfield

If You Go

If you should go before me,
I’ll re-read every line you ever wrote me,
every thought we shared so late,
the daily noise of our existence,
condensed to fiery keystrokes by weary fingers

I’ll see, in every moonlit glade,
and every time 
there are no shadows in the trees,
that special light that always made you shine,
brightened stars suspended in oil-filled globe,
shimmering with delight and forgiveness,
waiting patiently to climb the wick
and burn my fingers when I strike the match

And I’ll hear your music,
you never knew I listened—did you,
not with ears, but with my heart,
and it will soothe me to dreamless slumber
when tears soak my pillow in endless twilight

I’ll remember every hungered kiss and every time
you found me hiding under our oak and scolded me
for putting off the work I should have done
I won’t put it off any longer
There’ll be nothing left for me but work
All the world gone grey, the mists
 of my memories
like a blanket
 smothering my tomorrows

But I won’t leave when you have gone
I will pay the tab for the time you gave,
finish everything we planned that autumn morn,
before I lock the gate behind me,
and follow breadcrumbs scattered on the loam

~AJ Mayfield

Tropic of Cancer

coda to “Northern Lights” (2014 Archive)

Her need, her dream, my southern love,
to walk once more the crystal sand,
and lead the sun toward winter’s end

Returning east, she sings my blood,
leaves Riojan wine on my tongue,
her breath of spring and tangerines

Bright northern star did fail its quest,
to hold her fast in autumn’s mist,
so now she runs, runs to me in ev’ning

Westerly, her eyes turn sunset gold,
and so my heart stands where it never left,
in summer’s azure glow, and new beginnings

~AJ Mayfield

Loveworks

One day, my love for you
is going to break my heart
Not in the ordinary way,
when people grow tired of love,
or bored, or are taken away by someone
or something new
Because it goes like this…

I’ll be walking along, thinking thoughts,
and suddenly it will come to me that
I don’t remember, exactly, the last time
I thought of you, and in that moment,
that moment I never want to arrive,
I’ll be truly sad,
Sadder even than the day I looked at you,
and saw that you no longer look at me
as if you were the luckiest girl in the world
Because I know how love works….

~AJ Mayfield