after the song is over

by tobias crabtree

sometimes the only evidence of passing is the dust that hangs in the air.

it is the stirring up and moving and then the leaving.

i’ve seen this in life, with lives. those who went before me and who let me know which way to go by following the subtleties; indicators.

these people are the ones that swim across the dark water to reach the other side. and the water has lurking beasts and swirling dangers but no matter. there are those that swim across and lead and they show others that dangers do not keep us from the important stuff.

and thick hands that swing from sore elbows.

and the cowboy hat pulled low and tight so the wind won’t take it.

and the dark tattoos that speak of past wonders and hidden spaces.

and the biceps that held the fists that gripped the rope on bulls and broncs.

and the movement that is indicative of something wild.

and coffee and words.

and a time when i was younger and trying to understand my heart’s direction so i looked around me for a sign, some kind of stone, the heavier pull of something important. and in the seeking there is a foresight that shines through all the doubt. because doubt is dark and heavy. and so it is and so it was then, that i was looking for things through the doubt. this is where i look for someone who has gone before. i look for the dust hanging in the air that was kicked up by old boots, or the phosphorescence in the dark water that peels off of the fins of the swimmer as we pushed toward the blinking lights of land, or the light on the side of a hill across the canyon that told me someone was waiting on the other side.

these are the signs i look for.  still, i look for them.  i know certain ones will always have left proof of passage, for me to find my way.

so it is with stan, who went before me and then left just enough sign for me to follow. and when i came up out of the surf, he was smiling and knowing that i had tried with all my might. across time and miles we are friends and fellow tribesmen. our joints are sore and used. now, both our eyes are creased with wrinkles. our tattoos have stories that are not so very different, because we shared bits and pieces of a path that isn’t common.

Lt Colonel Stan Austin, you are one of the ones. i saw you from the start. thanks, amigo.

(have you ever listened to a song and understood every word? and when the song was over and the music was all played out, the song continued in your head? so as you move, the words and meaning of the song move with you, as if you were made for the song itself, like the living example. this feeling is true of certain kinds of poetry and song, the ones that are created from the fire of life. this is also true for me with some people, i live with the knowledge that i am sharing the same sun as them and it gives me impetus. there is power in simply being. we have only to listen to the song that is ringing in our ears long after the instruments have been laid down and the singers are quiet.)