Endless Circles

        by Michael Dylan Welch and David Terelinck

My poems for this tanka sequence were from a set originally written in 1996 and 1997. In October of 2016, when I rediscovered these poems, I sent the set to David Terelinck, who chose four of them and wrote response verses. This sequence was published in Skylark 5:1, Summer 2017, pages 96–97. David’s verses are on the right, in italic.

the hour candle
burned to a stub—
sycamore leaves
swirl through your porch
in an endless circle

                                                                                                the paleness
                                                                                                of the poplar’s limbs
                                                                                                before new growth—
                                                                                                on hearing she needs
                                                                                                a stem-cell transplant

after all these years
the oxalis still blooms
and someone still seems
though she’s gone
to be tending the orchard

                                                                                                those memories
                                                                                                that seem to cling to us
                                                                                                each passing year
                                                                                                these heart-shaped leaves
                                                                                                grow harder to cut back

for this moment
no creek burble
no wind sound
no bird calls
no beating heart

                                                                                                and if I step
                                                                                                upon this moon bridge?
                                                                                                they say blood
                                                                                                is thicker than water,
                                                                                                but what of love . . .

since we split apart
the memory that keeps recurring
is how she lost
the book I lent her
on relationships

                                                                                                how quickly
                                                                                                a match flares and dies—
                                                                                                can anyone
                                                                                                presume to calculate
                                                                                                the half-life of love?