I knew the summery night of your beginning.
I knew the winter darkness of your becoming.
Struggling into my blessed and blessing hands
your bruised head and bloody shoulders came
that night of your presentation to the light.
Between your mother and me a region
of uncharted heaven opened, slowly turning
bright constellations around your polar star.
With all the intensity in my scholar’s heart
I have studied the amber lightplay in your eyes,
the poignant symmetry of your shoulder blades,
the patient, open way you watch a friend,
the way you think before you speak, or cry, or laugh.
Karl, just the way your hair lies curled upon
your temples is a thing so ineffably right
as to stun the jaded philosopher into silence.
Living far ahead into our future,
I know the dark potential you inherit –
the folly, misplaced passion, fear, and cunning
that leave a lucky man with something better
and rob another man of all his birthright.
You hold one end of the rope; I hold the other.
Karl, we can bind up death! Or make
a noose to choke your future and my past.
One fact I wear as an amulet against despair:
between the nested parentheses of perception,
one could never hope to bracket one scintilla
of the flaming light you carry in your body.
When we are quiet together in the evening,
beyond the pallid saying and doing of the day,
I humbly take off my shoes and let that burning
cast my shadow on ancient holy ground.