Joel Vega

How I Hold the Living
by Joel Vega

With bare hands and green thumbs,
the wet earth succulent and breakable
making the palms soft, making it
transparent—No, opaque, a quality
seen through, as a pair of dragonfly
wings is seen through at daybreak,
clear and solid and robust, ready for
the long flight in the afternoon heat;

for the living must prepare for
the heat of the day, prepare their wings
for the energy-draining flight ahead, long
and relentless as the sun is relentless
in its single-minded journey,
from mountaintop to pyramid tip,
from grass to melting glacier, holding
the body with intimate heat.

How I hold the living, how I hold
the naked seedling before I plunge
its filament roots to the garden’s
intractable ground, is how I hold
the dead with their small mercies
and their silence and their uttered
promises. These are my bare hands,
unfolded in the quick light of the day.


Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 20, Issue 1.

Joel VegaJoel Vega lives in Arnhem, The Netherlands where he works as publications editor for a medical organization. His poems have appeared in Poetry Salzburg Review, Runes, Sand (Berlin), Tale of Three Cities (Paris), Poets Against the War, and various print and online literary journals in the Philippines, The Netherlands, UK and Germany.

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