In early March  
the doves mourn
as each new dawn
I sit, looking over
the barren field
where for ten days
nothing stirs until
six weeks from
the day she died,
an owl flies from
dark woods to perch
on a bare branch
above the Buddha
where, motionless,
his round unblinking
eyes stare into mine
though who knows
what he sees, or what,
if anything, it means,
but life is like that,
isn’t it, the way it
sometimes when least
expected breaks wide
open, and what appeared
as lost is found.

Mary, Mother

She was just another village girl
olive fleshed teen dressed
in desert brown
sneaking out to meet up with friends
on familiar paths of Judean Hills
Until an angel swooped in
a rush of wings
like a bird of prey
left the girl drenched  
ravished by the Word of God
The attention it brought
the way people talked . . .
Friends wouldn’t recognize her now
robed in gold and larkspur blue
nimbus round
her porcelain head
Just a girl
fretful child
strapped to her back
walking dusty hills
singing  dreaming
of the night
when he would sleep

The still pilgrim revisits the British Museum for the first time in twenty years

When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe.
—Keats, “Ode on a Grecian Urn”

We know these columns, this pediment,
angels and sages serene as stone
stand at attention, embodiment
of past grandeur, for this we’ve come,
to see the marble men and maids,
the attic shape, the heifer’s march,
the ancient truth that met Keats’ gaze
and fired his poems that light the dark

knowledge of our mortal being,
sing the song of fleeting time,
the static creatures we are seeing
live and breathe in his sweet lines.
The poem endures, though Keats is dust.
All remains unchanged but us.

Pregame ritual

Here in the basement of the Espresso Royale
                                     on Sixth Street in this land grant university town,
            amid English Fog lattes and keypad-clatter,
                                     in the afternoon before the all-hallows-eve in which Katie,
            a great-great-et-cetera granddaughter
                        of the townswoman they hanged for the crime
                                                of witchcraft, will play a game—homo ludens
                        of volleyball against the maize-and-blue Michigan Wolverines
I draft a missive to the good citizenry of Dorchester as though they might yet
                                                                          happen upon these words,
                                                             as though their revivified selves were a short gallop
                                    from this latitude and longitude, as though their sins
            of omission and commission might still be forgiven—
                        not just forgotten—by an act of penance that includes
                                                a pilgrimage to tonight’s venue and a maniacal cheering
                        for this descendent as she executes (I didn’t invent the language)
                                                a perfect play that culminates in (really, I didn’t) a kill.
            Full stop because
                                      I don’t know how to end this letter.
                                                                         So I do what
                                                                         I always do:
                                                                         continue breaking
            and staggering
                                     down the page until
                                                                                               it’s time to witness
                                                              more volleyball and cheer like nothing
                                                                                               else ever happens or matters.

At the Y

Iris, at 92, is more bird
than flower, more wings
flapping than bloom
unfolding. She is not still

life, not slow motion,
but mid-flight and atwitter,
elbows and knees
in awkward poses, fragile
neck gawked in the lovely
way of a small crane
or a young duck.  

Only her lavender
pants suggest a plant,
a blossom of early spring—oh,
and the way she looks
toward the sun, stretches
as our instructor tells her to,
her back a tender stalk.