So, I didn’t latch onto a holy word and go into space and, ethereal, lose touch with my body. But God, in those thirty slow minutes, you unfolded in me the bud of a fresh flower, with color and fragrance that was more than my soul was capable of, on its own.
. . . We all, with unveiled face, behold as in a mirror the glory of the Lord.
And when the peony showed up, I knew it as a kind of mirror. This was glory in pink and cream, with a smell of heaven. Petals like valves opening into the colors of my heart.
I saw myself kneeling on a grass border, my knees bruising the green, pressing my face into the face of this silken, just-opened bloom, and breathing it, wanting to drown in it. Wanting to grow in its reflected image.
Count on the faith that links us as we pray, about odd things in each other’s lives, nothing ruinous —a lost ring, an aching tooth. Even a request that we forget after a casual pledge: I’ll be sure to pray for you, words spoken as we chat at the store —they form a filament of gold, forged in heaven, that loops around us. Even careless phrases spoken through air hold firm, are heard, and may be answered. A cough that won’t give up, a missing check, a migraine that suspends us, waiting, held in the loop of prayer.
There’s not much I don’t know about you— yellow, red, sweet—grubbed up roots and all. Essential for a vigorous cuisine, alerting the sense—the crackle of your paper brown outer skin, your translucent inner sheaths like vegetable undergarments, your pungent heat rising from sharp steel and cutting board to my blurred eyes, your precise circles against the wood, before the sizzle in the buttered pan.
Reluctant to relinquish our intimacy your sharp essence clings to my fingers, like a reputation. Hours later, in the dark, you season the air around my hands, I’ll stud you with stars of cloves to bury in the belly of the bird before roasting. Or nestle your pearls with a stalk of mint among the green peas. If I leave you too long in the pantry, your patience exhausted, attenuated, soft at the center, you send up green spears through the mesh bag that call out chop me, make a salad, I am delicious.
How do I interpret my own layered membranes, like growth rings? I try to peel away the layers of my onion heart, never getting all the way in.
It leaps, breaking the skin of the lake of possibility, this thing that flashes steel— this trout of a poem, wild with life, rainbow scales and spiny fins. Now, for patience, the pull of the catch:
I cast, wait for the jerk—the tug of the hook in bony jaw— feel the line go taut. The ballet begins, a wrestle to land this flailing, feral thing—all thrash and edge— and tame it into telling its own muscular story.
I heave it over the edge of its arrival, glorious, fighting the whole way, slippery as language. Its beauty twitches on the floor boards, its glisten spilling over the bottom of my notebook page.
The pale bits—twigs, fibers, pine needles—sun-struck, fall through the lazy air as if yearning to be embodied in my knitting, like gold flecks woven into a ceremonial robe.
Then surprise—a new marvel! Like a parachutist, a very small beetle lands on the greeny stitch I have just passed from left needle to right; the creature’s burnished carapace mirrors precisely the loop of glowing, silky yarn that he has chosen.
When this shawl ends up warming someone’s shoulders, will she sense the unexpected— this glance, this gleam, this life spark?
The bell-ringers rise and fall with the weight of their bells, holding on for dear life to the pulls, the ropes rough in their hands, the young ones lifted up, up from the belfry floor like adolescent angels treading air, as if so caught up in those peals of sound—each of them in turn answering the plea of ponderous metal— they feel like feathers in a wind.
Consecrated, cassocked, gathered for this task of intricate rhythm-ing, they learn to weave their way through the ring-patterns like pigeons to the dovecote over the cadences of distance. Even a mile away we ourselves sway like bells, snared
A striking and apt image enhances the cover of this new collection of interviews with 19 leading American poets. An antique chair sits half in shadow; its cane seat, crossed by a beam of light, filters bright intricacies onto the legs, the dowels, the timbered floor. The message here is illumination, from a source offstage.
The forest floor bleak, choked with old leaves, winter wet. Against the evidence, buds on the wild dogwoods glisten, listen for a signal, lining up for bloom-time—when to burst and who'll be first? Every year, it's all according to weather, the wait for the heat-throb, wind fresh through the naked birch trunks longing to get green. The pressure's on, like listening for a starter pistol, finger on the trigger.
Spring is wound tight enough to let go any minute. Overarching the ravine, the cedars start their annual scatter of yellow sexual dust for the next generation. The clematis resists her tedium of cold and brown, cancels her winter sleep with a vertical thrust up the trellis, like a slow shooting star.
How can we help but hope, sprouts urged to fulfill a kind of promise— a covenant with the world that in unfolding, leaf tips flaring up and out, woody hearts pregnant with bloom and blessing, we will drink rain, light, heat for our emerald living. We face the sun full on—its lavish encouragement for cold to lift, shift, and move away. Holding on, ready for that shiver, a sliver of thrill like a jade thread through a labyrinth, when within us something fresh and green explodes.
Stability is greatly overrated. Why would I ever want to sit still and smug as a rock, confident, because of my great weight, that I will not be moved? Better to be soft as water, easily troubled, with at least three modes of being, able to shape- shift, to mirror, to cleanse, to drift downstream, To roar when I encounter the rock.