Poetry

Poetry

After so much darkness

                      —for my father

After so much darkness, the field’s excess of light,
the day floating on itself as in a dream.
But it isn’t a dream, the small wound songs of the house finch,
the sun hammering the grasses’ bronze tips.
We had gathered about your bed

like a boat we tried to push off stony ground.
We wanted to help: we believed in the buoyancy of that water.
You held onto the ruins instead of our hands.
What did we know of how it is to look back at one’s life?

A bee swings from the nightshade.
Ants carry their burden up the post of the shed unmoved by song.The grasses bend under the weight of so much light.
And the balm of the wind: from the woods the singing of leaves.
Or is it the sound of water flowing?






Aging tulips

See, it’s not sweet youth
that touts a wildness, but crazy
old age. Beauty shifts. Plump
pink petals fall away, or stay,
curling every which way,
like stiff, unruly hair, dried
to a deep blood-red.

The once-upright congregation-
in-a-vase flops over, losing their
heads, but that’s all right. They
find another life in unconventional
gesture, extravagant dance:
this still troupe, ecstatic,
with nothing left to lose.

Evensong

All winter the fish lounge at the bottom of the pond
squinting up now and then toward the cloudy light
beyond the ice, but mostly skulking behind cold wet shadows
like teenage guys down in the basement
hanging out, waiting for life to happen
dreaming elongated nursery rhymes
feeling the submerged sluggish vibrations of the earth
a faint quiver of the moon’s pull on the tides.

After Easter, though, they dopily drift toward the surface
where I am waiting patiently with
something like civilization in mind.
Sooner or later they’ll make the connection:
they get their daily bread from me.
And in return I get
a glimpse of their elusive grace,
their perfect freedom organized into evening ritual.

Another Lent

So here we go again.
The grit of darkened seasons past
between the eyes, across the brow.
The purple cloths of grief,
tall cloistered candles, numbered days.
Six more weeks of wintered trudging
through a wilderness bereft of alleluias.
All this to show that everything we know—
and are—is dust
and will return in just the way it came
and always has come.
Yet, here and there, bent brave above the snow
the clustered Lenten rose bleeds color
from pale sunlight,
gently points itself toward a cross,
an emptied cave,
that bright unending summer
glimpsed in childhood,
and forever after longed for
past the terminus of measured time.

Easter's ABCs

Let A stand for amaryllis,
B for betray,
C for cast,
and so on until W
straddles
want and wake—
the advance men for rapture.

Substitute lilies for amaryllis,
a kiss for betrayal.
Gather a Roman cast,
straddling
Jewish law.
Wake
to rapture.