Poetry

Poetry

Shadow and light

Sometimes to the eye, the green shadow of the vine
has more substance than the vine itself, its leaves
fluttering, translucent awnings in the mind.

Tall morning shadows of children exaggerate
the future everywhere. Saints and reprobates alike
cast shadows in the harsh light of the real.

And memory is full of shadows, borrowing light
from contemplation to discern the faces and forms
of all who have slipped away from our embrace.

If in that last darkness there is light, jasper walls
will test our final substance. Perhaps the dead will
know us first by tracing the shadows that we cast.

At the tomb II

His offering made us see what could be done
With flesh and blood. First, we had eaten from
His gestures—wine and bread—and what we’d been
Was gone. We knew that we belonged to him.

Then, waiting with our grief beside the tomb,
We were made humble, and our faces wet.
We wanted his return; we wanted him,
The way he made our truth immediate.

But he was gone, and what would happen now?
We felt the loss that he’d inherited,
The loss we’d given him, that pierced him through.
There, we were bound by all that wasn’t said.

And, finally, realizing what was known,
We closed our eyes, and saw him rise through stone.

We come to adore

for Quinn Brandt, born March 24, 2013

                                                  Maundy Thursday, redbuds frenetic
                 with their magenta boogiewoogie
                                                                a host of white
sleeves the two plums outside
                                                                our window
             the purple
sash                         hung
           on the cross
           in front of
           the Pente-
           costal church
                                                              a cape.
Surely power
of life
over
death
trumps
any way with train or joker or whathaveyou.
                                                           It is
not comic colors
nor cool cars
                                             we come to adore
                                                                                   but the thrill of
fresh mulch on a March morning
                                             the first strawberry greenly anticipated
the pig’s fat flirting
                                    fangling new the lacy hems of collard, mustard, kale

                                                Quinn Amelia four days old

                                                            some voices gather
for a last supper
for a closer walk
                                   around vowels soft and consonants swift
                                                           Yeshua, Jesus, Lord
thank you for
           this life
                                  again and again and again

Sweet garden, sweet tangle of herbs

Sweet garden, sweet tangle of herbs
sweet April without rains, then coming

sweet basil, sweet scented fingertips
sweet unfolded afternoon

I would love to be sweet
Jesus who withers a tree

forsythia, lilac, mock orange, red twig,
ceanothus in the wrong region

opened fists of flowering
opened eye of unnaming

sweet taste of the compost
in the stems of violets, in chives

inside my mouth a bittering and dearth
suckled need for my losses

sweet muddled creed of the bloodroot
sweet delicate tongue, licking my fingers clean

On Botticelli’s Annunciation

I have met them in the Uffizi
the angel hunched on bended knee—
his thigh thick beneath his satin robe—
the virgin’s urgent contrapposto
her sudden arm extended long
beyond the border of her cape
halting his rehearsed song
as if his theme weren’t love but rape.

Her face impossibly serene
does not betray her body’s fear.
His deathless eyes have never seen
a mortal woman quite so near.
The space between their outstretched hands
salvation in a single glance.