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.
“How oft when men are at the point of death have they been merry! which their keepers call a lightning before death.” Romeo and Juliet, Act 5, Scene 3
Where will you be, God, when life-time warranties are running out, familiar faces muddling and fading, lovers’ own language sliding into recitation; and when I am wanting to rally to welcome one last poem, I keep colliding with that ancient passion for sacred sleep? Where will you be, God, during kisses I can’t return but only savor forever, when precious hands as though my own are touching for the last time my body’s prayer places? Where, God, will you be as my odyssey ends— this one that keeps folding back upon itself as though to start anew, this odyssey now running out of road? Will you be so much me that I could miss you, so present that I am at last fully realized, or so far away that I am left with the nevertheless of mere surrender and my own bright laughter?
When it’s too nice to nap indoors, I take an old knotted comforter to the back edge of the garden, near tomato leaves I crush for a last whiff of summer. Crickets chorus round me and the combine’s racket turns to a purr the barn cats pick up, settling near my head. It’s then I look up at the cosmos, struck by their petals, mandarin orange against blue sky. The underside shines radiant as monarch wings or the stained glass of sun through tissue paper. Resting by County Road N 400 W, I forget laundry on the line, supper to fix. For hours I’ve been napping. Now I am awake.
Cold morning, November, taking a walk, when suddenly, up ahead, the trees unleave, and thousands of starlings lift off, an immense river of noise; they braid and unbraid themselves over my head, the gray silk sky embroidered with black kisses, the whoosh of their wings, their chattering clatter, patterns broken/formed/ reformed, a scarf of ragged ribbons. Dumb- struck, mouth open, I say holy and I say moly. And then, they’re gone.
I was pawing through a shelf of books the other day When out fell a note from my late brother in his tiny Adamant wry inarguable crisp half-cursive-half-not Handwriting, and just for an instant I saw and heard Him at his desk, in his study, his mustache bristling, Black coffee half-cold, the burl of his body wrapped In the arms of the chair that held him for thirty years, A chair as big as a horse and twice as heavy. I heard Him, I tell you, I did, and I saw him, half-shadowed, Scribbling notes: his philatelic pursuits, notes for his Class next week, notes on a book he was going to do About Benedictine spirituality . . . then I was only me By the bookshelf again. But for a second I was in my Brother’s study, watching him. It was late, everybody Was in bed, but not him, as usual he was up late with Coffee. He was wearing a sweater. The scritch of his Pen. His shoulders like boulders. The dim procession Of his books, organized by genre and author. He died Three years ago. But I saw him, absorbed, thoroughly Attentive, scrawling notes. There’s way more possible Than we think possible; possible turns out to be a verb. I don’t know how else to explain things like this. They Happen all the time to all of us and we hesitate to gape About them publicly because the words sound like pap, Miracle and epiphany and vision, you come off as nuts, A religious goober who talks to owls and addled saints. But you know and I know that this happens. I guess we Will always understandably be hesitant to chat about it, Which is fine, as no one enjoys being labeled a goober; But once in a while, like here, we should admit that it’s Real, and it happens all the time, and it’s scary and cool. That’s all. Once in a while we should gently say what is.