Poetry

Poetry

A communion of tools

Each time I visit, my father gives me
The things that are sold from weekend driveways—
A painting, old golf clubs, assorted books.
Before it’s too late, he says, repeating
That caution bimonthly for nineteen years
Because the Bible says threescore and ten.

But lately, they’ve been practical, these gifts,
Things requiring muscle, as if some part
Of him might enter me through communion,
Transubstantiation happening when
I take these things in my hands, receiving
His body and blood in the church of work,
Believing I will take it through my hands,
That forgiveness will follow when I fill
His role as oldest, feeling him return
In the useful things lifted one morning,
The rake and clippers, the shovel and hoe.

Beside the porch, this afternoon, his gifts
Are clustered like possibilities raised
By numbers—a sickle, a pick, a scythe.
“One last thing,” he says, waving me inside
Where I imagine vacuum cleaner, broom,
A year’s-stiff mop, following his shuffle
Until, in his bedroom, he says, “Not these.
Just look,” showing me nail file and tweezers,
Cuticle scissors, the small implements
Of grooming left behind by my mother,
What he won’t part with, flexing those scissors
With finger and thumb, ready to receive.



Biblical, post-Holocaust question #5

Oh, Moses, on Mount Nebo
If you’d seen Israel flow

Rupture, profusely bleed
And coagulate through centuries,

If you’d seen beyond the great sea
Into the bowels of Europe,

What would you have told
God at the end?





Biblical, post-Holocaust question #7

Noah’s gaunt, wet face,
      A survivor’s cheekbone trail:
Tears of joy or dearth?

On silence

The eleventh degree of humility is concerned with the manner of speech . . .”
                 Chapter 7, St. Benedict’s Rule

Speak little, speak low,
new truths I do not know,

I the she who’s ever
talking, always and not ever

listening for the quiet voice
teaching me that choice

isn’t to obey my silly heart.
Now only do I start

to hear Your blessed name
pattered by the rain,

sung by the rising sun,
uttered as I run

with each breathing cell
of my soul’s singing shell,

these limbs I love
by which I move

closer, close to You.
The body speaks true:

what my tongue wants most
the silence of the host.



















Funnels made of silk

It’s fall and the grass spiders, the funnel weavers,
have entered the house.
Last year the shower of Leonids,
now, daughter, you in my arms.

Yesterday, after last rites, my husband helped
find a casket for a three-year-old.
Today he took communion
to a boy in the hospital.
The body and blood now sit in a box
on our kitchen counter.

After the nebulizer has freed the chambers
of your lungs, I carry you to your room.
Another yellow snail has died in your aquarium.
My fingers cradle its lightness,
toss it in the garbage.

Once in bed, you sleep the sleep of danger,
breath clicking upon itself.
Get behind me! I whisper you to say.

The grass spider wants dark corners,
even with four sets of eyes.
Between the bricks and door frame waits
a funnel made of silk.