Poetry

Poetry

A sad story (told by an elderly lawyer about a client) prompts a prayer

He saw his parents killed. Their car.
A 7-Up truck full of glass
Bottles. An icy underpass.
A scene everyone knew would scar—

Something the jury had to count
In calculating damages—
Bloody, in technicolor, his—
Part of the verdict’s big amount.

Not big enough, apparently.
Ten, when the accident took place,
The boy grew up but couldn’t face
What more the world might make him see.

Here, shrugging feelings out of reach,
His lawyer paused, about to end:
The client—twenty now, a friend—
Blinded himself with household bleach.

Author of Beauty, help us all.
We have such open eyes and ears.
Violence seen and heard appears
Again, a vicious animal,

Jaws clenched on our deep-seated hearts.
No wonder human sight can fade,
Darkness take on the look of shade.
Lord, heal our vision where it starts.

Funny hospital saying

I’m not sure why I found it so endearing,
the surgeon’s always saying, upon hearing
his patient’s slightly hopeful rephrasing or reply
just after he’s been told the how and the why
of the surgery or recovery, a fine-mineral fear
inset in optimism, “From your mouth to God’s ear.”
The surgeon said it encouragingly, with a smile.
Considering it, it took me only a little while
to realize what it signified: “We can’t really know,
but it’s good to hope so. Who knows? Let’s hope so.
But also don’t mistake my taking of a measure,
my neutral explanation. Elsewhere is your treasure
or rescue, if any exists. Nothing is promised, either.”
By then, I was content to drift in uncertainty’s ether.

January 26th: the anniversary of my mother’s death

He is green before the sun,
And his branch shooteth forth
In his garden.

Job 8:16

Today, I am five years older than she was.
Mom didn’t have time to tell me everything.

All my green chairs were my mother’s,
who inherited hers from God knows where.

Because some green chairs never wear out,
I wish I could know everything about green:

nature’s timeless neutral, algae, fir trees,
grasses, fronds, the peacock’s iridescence;

some dragons, most jade, copper’s verdigris,
oil of sage, chrysoprase, and sunset’s moment—

the green flash—Yahweh’s infinity wand.

His eye is on the sparrow

When my grandfather was ninety-two,
he swung at the first pitch he saw.
He made contact.
What we remember is not the roller towards short,
or the stunned cheers of the church-supper crowd.
What will not die is the briefest of moments
when he broke for first, forgetting his decades.
Habits of youth buried came sparking to life.
He broke for first, and unless our eyes deceived us,
he tossed the bat away and pivoted like DiMaggio.
It seemed—the grounder I mean—a luxurious grace,
a sidelong benediction to brighten the waiting days.

The farm wife muses upon her Miracle Tree

Everyone laughed
when it arrived in a legal-sized
envelope and I showed them

the ad: “For 19.99, watch it
reach your roofline in a year.”
Just as that stick, plain

as a toothpick, unfurled a leaf
Pete clipped it
with the mower. That’s it,

I thought, but it grew back
above the red petunias
I added ’round its base.

We could use a miracle here,
with the cows gone
and the house in reverse

mortgage. But when it
spouted slender branches
with narrow leaves

even the Schwan Man
who measured each week
lost interest. I ponder

the name Salix babylonica
and how merchants
traded sprigs of those trees

along the Silk Road. Already
it weeps like a woman,
I write in my diary. Already

my neighbors dismiss it
as a dirty tree.