Poetry

Poetry

Easter week

Speaking of Houdini and escape,
of Spring, this Spring, there being
no General or Eternal Spring,

yesterday I saw a blue pickup
pull out from a stoplight with eight trees
swaying and gesturing, sentenced to a life

they never chose. We know the cruelty
of mathematics, the bottom line,
how it can cancel the exactitude of longing.

How bereavement can sound like
the plunking of a piano tuner through an open window,
notes trying to break free

but staked to the tonic scale like greyhounds
tethered to a doghouse
in the killing heat of summer.

As the truck accelerates, the wind
ruffles the trees’ feathers. They could be five year olds
in an Easter pageant, trying to slough off wings

and other baggage. They are that filled with
the Holy Ghost. Oh, the odd beauty of green!
Oh the rumor of another life!











The vigil

How did he do it?
Open those good hands,
spread his five fingers wide
to receive the blunt nails?
Hear the crack of bone,
delicate wingwork of phalanx and carpal?
Hang the weight of his whole self
from those soft clay doves
and trust them to hold?
To hold?

They flutter light.
Brush against the good wood.
His mother’s eye catches,
watches as she used to watch
beside her dreaming child
those white birds of paradise
gently reach
for some thing lost,
some thing left behind,
a kingdom he saw about to come.

Reflections in a spoon

Hunger is a bowl of reflected light,
a concave mirror of flight,
an image reversed,
the breech birth
of an angel floating from Earth
feet first.

The book

Onion skin, they called those thin
pages in our Bibles, translucent
and strong. Finger smudge at the edges,
pages shining over the layers
that wait for understanding. After decades
I taste them new, the onion sliced raw,
tang of earth in my mouth.

*

Book of leaves, a tree in our house.
My father brings it to the table.
Before oatmeal and bread, the words
like seeds drop down into a damp place.
“The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away,”
blessed be the leaves turning in his hand.

*

My children, bathed and fragrant, lean
against my shoulders as I read.
They listen to the Shepherd who calls
to them, who walks the edge of a cliff.
They smell the burning bush, huddle
with me as the glory passes over,
as I cover them with these paper wings.

*

The stories walk out the door with us—
Joseph dreaming, Ruth gleaning,
Jesus in a boat, Jesus wearing thorns.
Sometimes he gazes like a lion,
stares down the marble aisles
of churches through glass angels,
out to the ruins we have made.

*

One red satin ribbon marks the place,
cord of God’s desire for us
sewn to the spine of the text.
No matter where the scarlet falls,
no matter which chapter or verse,
it is relentless in pursuit, the prophets
stumbling behind us, weeping
and singing, the blind man seeing.

*

Veins in the leaves are traceries
of Hebrew and Greek, hidden and sweet,
stories from which we begin again.
I smell roots and eat. “Blessed
are those planted by the river.”
I will sleep in threads of silk,
for I have eaten the Book,
and one day will emerge with wet wings
lifting toward the white lilies.



















How it comes this time

Did God create the microbes, too?
On which day did God say,
“Let there be Brie”?

Are these, then, messengers of the Holy One—
Clostridium Gabriel Difficile and
Staphylococcus Michael Aureus?
The seraphim Influenza and Pneumonia?

No drunk driver will take her away.
No warriors wage this assault.
No mugger, no terrorist, no drive-by shooter.
No one to blame. No one.

Unlike the monotonic booping of her monitor
And tweeting IVAC pump,
Her ventilator pipes an almost merry tune
From time to time,
Like close encounters of some kind,
While tiny creatures who, naturally,
Dance in colonies on heads of pins,
Swing, Lo, to carry her home