Poetry

Poetry

When we first told you

Gail, remember the boy that broke
his neck on the campus lawn—
just kidding around, turning flips
with his college buddies?
He got his diploma this afternoon
and a standing ovation that had to stop.

When we first told you about this boy,
your face turned lost, you thought
of your own at twenty-one,
somersaulted into a field by a Mack truck.

That was a moment I could love you,
though sons-in-law are poor in love.
That was a moment love lay
languishing before you, bleeding
from a crown of thorns
and once more giving up your ghost.



From Lindisfarne

The route wends rock
to slippery rock, round
seaweed clumps bared

by ebbing tide, from
ruined priory to sunlit
isle lush with flowers

and blowing grass—
hermitage for pilgrims
hastening on. At the

cathedral light filters
into Saint Cuthbert’s
shrine, where sculpted

stone lauds the Christ,
who twines all storied

with his.













A good Christian mustn't fear the darkness of the grave

But let me tell you about its landscape. Small,
hot, wooden, and from above no one will hear you murmur
let me out. Out of the darkness nothing’s delivered. Still,

you beg it to the brass of the coffin’s creak hinge while satin grows stench
and your death dress rots away. You are livid and left alone.
The red jasper chaplet in your hand inclines to the pretense

of prayer. You are appalled, shrouded, sutured shut.
They did not put the pillow in between your knees. And
your lipstick’s smeared. Once upon, you wished for a thousand infinities.

Finally arrived, nothing can be more broken, nothing can be
more than dead. A devilwood tree hones toward the uncarved side
of your stone. But this, of course, is not the end.





Hummers

Even in Maine’s rain and fog I catch them,
often in pairs, or waiting, patient, perched on
a scarcely bending twig of our aged forsythia,
then working the window box petunias
till the coast seems clear, while I hover, motionless,
on the shadowed porch, hungry for still another glimpse
of ruby throat and emerald layered coat,
the delicate dip of beak in cup, the tilted head,
the blur of wings, that sudden flash of movement—
now-you-see-me-now-you-don’t.
Whatever it may be in me—
some wandered/wondered child—
that makes me watch and wait, this late,
the daily hours to catch their, almost holy, visitations,
I’m grateful for it, mindful too
of one who, every once in a long while, still hovers
back there just beyond, behind the nearest edge
of solitude, or prayer, or even glimpses of the tiniest of birds.

Patterns

Concept of green, shape of a crystal bird,
Color and form locked in the synapses
Even neuritic plaque cannot destroy—
Although we cannot know with certainty.
But by the evidence there must exist
A sense of order, of a certain kind,
And things appear where they have never been,
In neat arrangements of a different kind.
Among the lambent eggs and crystal birds,
Given as gifts to a beloved one,
I find green leaves torn from a growing plant,
Arranged in shape, a graceful trinity:
O, I am glad I did not say a word,
Perhaps she thought green leaves would feed the bird.