Meditation at Lost Creek

There are spots along the creekside path — if you can tune out
the highways’ hum, and overlook the pipe from the storm drain
spilling its effluent into the stream, and the plastic bag
caught in a tangle of tree branch reaching down into the water,
between the graffitied bridge supports and the signposts warning
against littering — where you can almost imagine what this place
would have seemed like a hundred, or more, years ago. The anglers
on the banks with their lines trailing in the current, the moss
hanging down from sagging trunks, the way that rock jutting up
from the creek bed snags the surface of the water and roils it
briefly before letting it pass. Walking here gives the mind space
to open, to branch out, drift in the current, allows time
for the mind to breathe in between the buds on the young branches,
a place for memory to grow in the shade beneath the trees.
Step. Step. Each one slightly different in measure, in tempo,
in pitch. The off-key deleted, like the drain pipe and the traffic
noise, the screeching of rails from above, leaving only
the whispered echo of the twenty-three Japanese rail workers
who died here, a little over a hundred years ago, according
to the plaque embedded in a stone along the creekside path.

 

 

© Mark Milner, Burnaby, 2020

Stones

In the middle of the city
a field of carefully arranged stones
is calling out.

One stone in particular
calls to me
across mountains
quietly as a whisper
of wind in short prairie grasses
or snow sloped
gently against fenceposts.

There are few of us here
tending to the stones, clearing
the snow and the dead
overgrown grasses and cold
dirt from their faces.

Even though I have memorized the place
it still takes a few tries to locate the right one.

And then it is there.
My father’s name emerging

and the dates
always surprising me
with how many years it’s been now.

The quiet of this place,
this snowy field of stones, where names and dates drift
out of memory. How many years before this is all that is left of us?
Who will visit on a winter’s day
to brush the forgetful snow from our names?

We turn away from the thought.
I say goodbye to the stone.
I promise to return.

© Mark Milner, 2018, Vancouver