Alfred D. Byrd
THISTLEDOWN sees you, lonely and sad,
Across a classroom hateful with noise
From students sharing a space with you,
But mocking what makes your life worth while.
She becomes a friend, unsought, but loved,
Who shares with you a world of secrets,
Mysteries rescued from lands long lost,
But now restored — imagined and played.
You find within each other's household —
Families differ, but stay the same mdash;
A refuge letting customs live on
That should've died in an age gone by.
You wrestle with faith mdash; too dark, not yours —
But choose to live a life of secrets —
Symbols hide them from all but you two —
That form a shield from the world outside.
EVENTS of darkness break in at times,
But verse that lets you express your dreams
Protects you from fears that prowl a land
Consumed with worries, heartbreak, and rage.
You find in books a glue that binds you,
Dreamers, together in tales of hope.
You seek afar the cities of light
In which the sages teach you wisdom:
Secrets, perhaps, of friends or foes
That leap from them to reshape our lives.
The ones who share our homes and our blood
May mock a path that differs from theirs.
It's true: we don't belong to this world
In which the years will change us in ways
That we don't desire, but must endure.
We choose adventures to save our lives,
But are we honest, even alone?
Do we touch a world in ways that turn
Unfriendly pathways to ones of hope?
A DEATH occurs, subverting wishes:
Thistledown falters, dealing with loss,
Which shows how fragile a dream can be.
The death begins a parting of hearts:
A dream is two dreams, maybe unlinked.
What guides us onward, seeking meaning?
A past remembered, a dream recalled,
A thing imagined — mighty in hope,
But weak, perhaps, in being fulfilled.
It isn't enough for one in pain,
And she has left you, watching — weeping.
THISTLEDOWN, absent, leads you to ask,
"Can I replace the one who's been lost
With one who's been found, unsought, but loved?"
You've moved away from your place of birth
And found a way to have adventures
Differing greatly from what you knew.
Can you choose a voice to speak in verse
Of things that change, but remain unchanged?
You've learned to love another lover —
THISTLEDOWN enters, crossing your life,
But soon departs, not as changed as you.
The one who wanders, it seems, is more
Resistant to change than one who stays
To face whatever hardship may shape
Beliefs and actions from day to day.
You learn the secrets of lives now yours
By ties that bind through the years to come;
You choose to love, however challenged,
For love gives meaning, laughter — sorrow.
MEANWHILE, Thistledown flutters across
The edge of vision with news of dream
While you deal with what has warped your life —
A tide of rumors, unwelcome, but true,
That bare the secrets within your home.
You find, as you keep your world intact,
That you dream of one who walks unseen
And laughs or weeps in places afar —
Beyond the sunset, across the stars —
Within the realms that teem with dragons.
Separate, you and she, once one,
Are still together, married by dreams.
The two of you, you learn, are partners
Sharing a passion, useless, but pure,
Amid a world in which devices
Alter daily the course of our lives.
You make a home, a refuge for guests
Who come to shelter with you awhile,
But you wish to hear the call of roads
And see adventures before you die.
They happen never; our life is small.
We see our children repeat our sins,
And we fail to find the land once lost.
MISFORTUNE crushes your dream of home
And leaves you empty, helpless mourner.
Meaning is absent without the love
That binds us to life with arms that hold
And ears that listen to what we are.
Can we find the grace to keep on track
When all is trackless amid our tears?
AMID THE GLOOM there's something hopeful:
Thistledown enters, bearing a light
That lets us observe what paths may branch
Across the years ahead with purpose,
Living a dream imagined — restored.
You ask a question pregnant with hope:
"When we've lost what lay between us two,
Can what we lost return on the wind?"
Can she who sought, but never could find
The land of dreams on roads without end
Now find it with you at home — at rest?
You'll take a risk and make a future:
Thistledown, planting her seed in earth
And bearing what fruit the days may bring.
If this poem has spoken to you, you may wish to read Thistledown, a novel that expands and explains it.