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?