Poetry

Poetry

Parable

Maker of galaxies, at latest count
Billions! And who can say that our Big Bang
Was not preceded, from your primal fount
By other billions, while the angels sang?
Then shall we take the word of a great Jew,
That one child is more precious in your sight
Than all the rocks in all the worlds you view,
And loyal anima is your delight?
Maker of galaxies, how then weigh out
A small Iraqi eye, terror-suffused,
Against the marvels you have brought about,
Why are your little children so abused?
“Not bread, not miracles, not use of power,”
So your Son said. We must await your hour.



Labors of love

Spring did not officially arrive
until two this afternoon,
or so the weatherspinner had informed us,
so that when, at morning prayer,
my still wintered words were interrupted
by a pair of honking calls,
I laughed aloud
to think that my Canadian neighbors
of several springtimes had beaten nature’s clock
by seven hours and more to seek
their customary lot along the creek
for hatching this year’s brood.

Minutes later—the creed
and half a prayer, no less—
and their first raucous pass to reconnoitre
was followed by the splashdown run,
low now across our deck
and through the clustered trees
onto that quiet pool stretching above the rapids
where, over the next few days, they will be joined,
most likely, by a familiar pair of mallard ducks
who share their taste in shoreline real estate.
Meanwhile a red-tailed hawk
orbits high aloft
in leisurely anticipation.





Emancipation?

Many fields, many treasures, many pearls
(One chosen). Here, fish netted, many kinds,
But singularity is not the point,
The point is, good are kept, and bad destroyed.
Are these the gentle Galilean’s words?
If so, a strange form of gentility:
The angels throw the evil in the fire,
And there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.
O, how we twist and turn and rationalize,
Assured Matthew was victim of his time,
And heaven’s kingdom never need be forced,
And “way that leads to life” is easy, smooth.
Shall we amend, then, the Apostles’ Creed:
“To judge the quick and dead”? This we don’t need.



Any day's light

The water lilies laugh, though not
Unkindly. I miss it every day:
First their opening, then their closing.
I am the small joke of flowers, not that I

Mind, though I’m looking for some guidance
In return. After all, I am like
Them, needing light but not built for
Too much of it. But unlike me,

They know when and how to quit, to close up
Shop and consider, in their pleasant,
Shuttered rooms, what the poured-down
Light of any day reveals.







Seeing the Word

Isaiah saw the Word?
I look up from Writ and am at first just—interested.
How to see something spoken?

And yet one needs to think,
and perhaps I’ve done so, of Word as more than Speech.
I remember that the death

of beloved Uncle Peter
left me, who had adored him, unable to rid
my mouth of a clenching dryness.

It was hopeless cold, and I not alone,
I’d bet, in fear that our notions of redemption
would suddenly turn fiction,

betraying their comfortable weft
as of the exact material of the emperor’s
famous clothes; that we’d make,

despite our self-regard,
fast plans to bulwark each other—and then forget them.
Or rather simply ignore them,

sensing that they’d gone useless. . . .
And it’s true that we’ve all of us scrambled, and shuffled, and worried!
Money. Our kids’ educations.

How they’ll fare in the end.
The kids, that is. And yet, by service’s end,
our “fictions” regathered themselves—

Jerusalem! Jerusalem! Jerusalem!—

as if Peter had risen, spoken,
even if by all measure he was silent,
his ashes down in that box

and the topsoil loaded upon it.
We could see he had spoken, and not in mere abstractions,
though abstractions there were:

Honesty. Decency. Humor.

Less those, though, than his ancient barn-red dory,
the one that he named “Sea Cow,”

which rode Champlain again,
and the yuk-yuk-yuk of his laughter (by the living God,
he did go yuk-yuk-yuk!)

sounding along the sandstone
walls, and, yes, though we shivered, though ashes lay silent,
we heard his handsome face

and the way till his 95th year
he spread his arms in love and welcome and grace
and died in a fitting peace.

His sounds glowed over the mountains
to westward, like soft huge garments we might pull over
ourselves before we found sleep.