Poetry

Poetry

Enoch

First there was the twitch
          of the olive leaf lipping its stem,
                    then the sigh of silt, settling,
                              and the surrender of crickets,                                         their legs, like fans, folding,
                                   when the trill of a brook,
                 intoxicating, irresistible,
             like the grace of his Lord,
carried him away that evening—
            no chariot for Enoch
                     at the age of 365
                            who walked with God
                                   and simply
                                            like the last day in a year
                                                    was no more.

The pastor's wife and I

The pastor’s wife does not go out to play.
Outside it is Tuesday—merciless and far

from Sunday. She is all righteous carrots
and earnest potatoes. Sometimes she hurts

me with her notions, makes my shoulders droop,
reminds me that Nola’s dreams are a troupe

of untrained monkeys. She recycles
my prayers, drags me away from dark angels.

But, when her hair grew prim and gray, I made
her dye it brown. Then, she chose our second husband,

a good man given to chills—him, I seduced.
Now, like a gun, she holds her watch

to my ear, forces me to write these poems.
It was I who fed her those wild greens,

a salad cut from the last of my pagan
garden’s rue. Her mouth burns

for benedictions and shooting stars.
Into my mirror she stares, worries

I might disappear—her feral woman—
the woman who met Christ at the well.

















Season of surprise

This time of year,
what with bulbs bursting
through to light, crashing
headlong into color, puff balls
of sudden pink, cloud clumps
of eager violet and white crowding,
clustering, clambering up and along
each naked stem and branch,
what with the gray lawn’s sweet,
impulsive greening, the chill creek’s
snow-melt speedy surface coat
of foam and flashing ripples,
what with these birdsong brimming dawns,
these chirping, marsh-born, peeper
chants that hymn the day to rest,
what with such hastening, glad abandon
rushing, coursing, flooding, charging
toward life, tales of a vacant tomb,
of bindings cast like scattered husks
and the rumbling of a cold, dead rock
to clear the way for all that is to come,
such tales seem almost natural. What else
should we have expected, after all?

Transport

After the tourist’s two blue insomniac nights,
patrols of all that had been lost, botched, or sweet
but severed, during the Albinoni he went off,
up, away, so that, say, the sudden recall
of his late mother in grainy portrait in her yearbook,
over the captions: “brightest,” and—in the quaint patois
of the gentry during their Depression—“most attractive,”
and the despair she may have felt as children and alcohol
supervened: if any such feckless maundering
occurred to him . . . Well, off, up and away went she
as well, borne heavenward on the andante’s strains.
Two trumpets. One great organ. Peace might well lie at hand.
Peace was at hand. During Martini’s toccata in C,

a vision of his tall naked wife, under a tall naked sun,
produced in him in the church a subtle stirring, even
a mild tumescence, which he would otherwise have described
as out of order, were it not that this newer order arched
so beyond any scheme he’d normally posit that within it all things
were possible, as they are, it is said, with God, Who
during the Manfredini revealed Himself to our tourist
in what he construed as His human form, His prison garb
stained and rent, His savaged body hefted by men
and women—their countenances looking more angry than mournful—
from a loud place like that bar on the corner of Thakurova
and Evropska, which he had walked by that evening on his way
to transport: the Metro, which carried him into this old quarter

in a car along with that beauteous, amorous young Czech couple
with their red-tipped white staffs and whited eyes,
then spilled him out to rumpsteak with garlic, alone, and then
to the 9 p.m. concert, alone. During the Ave Maria
of Schubert, he saw a joy he hadn’t seen in the tears
of St. Peter as rendered faceforth by an artist, Swiss of all things,
unknown to him till that forenoon in the Castle gallery.
The wailing weanling calves of his childhood now placidly grazed.
The famous small songbirds lit on the outstretched arms of Francis.
Peter’s tears had appeared only woeful this morning. The hour of music
concluded, the tourist walked, though it felt still like soaring,
his cobblestone-wearied heels devoid of any pain,
back into this world, broken and joyous and praying,

“Never to be the same.” Never perhaps again.





Bifocals

Now I live in divided and distinguished
worlds, joined by an equatorial smudge,

the common murk of middle earth.
Now I learn to bring my book under

my nose, to bow my head in reverence
to observe my footing on the stairs.

Now the drawing down of blinds,
the narrowing of near and far,

the clarifying closure of these unhinged
doors of perception, cleansed but cloistered.