Poetry

Poetry

Falling upward

          “. . . he was carried up, and a cloud took him.” Acts 1:9

Gravity, they say, is all about mass. Big attracts
Big sucks big pulls big, like death, won’t let go. Still,
We worship those who try: “Lucky Lindy,” St. Michael
Jordan. Leonardo, bless him, forever plotting how
To fly, or assuage the general jowliness of time.

Jesus was taken up, and Mary. St. Teresa of Ávila
Had to cling to the rail during prayer to keep from
Floating skyward—the Assumption being that things
Sometimes fall up. But, come on, which way is
Up? That is to say, which way isn’t? If Teresa was

A person of such faith, why didn’t she just let go? Like
The man I knew who, after being told he had “maybe
Six months,” immediately signed up for swimming
Lessons. “Well,” he said, “I just felt that if I could learn
How to float, I could learn how to die.”









Săracă inima mè

     —outside Biertan, Romania

Hush, my heart. There is still the light

through the windows, fields that remember
you. Past the yellow church beside the forest,
hush. I’ve had to learn the ease of waiting.
Somewhere, in autumns, the songs grow surer
with waiting. You cannot hurry through
hurt. Quiet. Still. Slow, like those swallows
along the rooftops. Color upon a shawl.

World, loving its long evenings in silence.





Dream at Bethel

Quiet now, but for camel’s tongues,
lopping fat and sticky in the young

desert night, big wind in the black backdrop
of sky, crickets and their ancient legs, log-pops

from my small fire. Cool on my feet,
this breeze after two days walking since trees

of my village waved their shaggy good-byes. My wool socks
stuffed in boots, I relax; put a smooth rock

under my head, start to dream the dreams of my life:
I can fly like hawks, have green-eyed wives

from the east, am a sailor with a swift ship,
fish, kingdoms under me, then this:

a ladder leaning into clouds, bright like sun-high noon,
quick as raindrops, up and down, angels, soft as moon.

Then a whisper comes sliding too, down the ricket of the bars,
promising health, wealth, good luck, descendants like the stars.

The fire is dim as voices when the drop
of my leg wakes me. Blinking, I prop

on an elbow and look around for stairs, an unnatural
hint of spirits, but see only my bearded camels,

some lights on a hill from town, my boots, provisions.
I think better of my strange vision.

At breakfast I splash oil on my pillow rock—
it seems holy still—and get ready to walk, pack

everything, give the camels some straw,
call the place Church, to remember what I saw.























Christening

                                          for Garland

Rose-light hues us on the porch, you nestled
in my arms, as I consider the osprey
circling his customary roost, atop
a power pole across the street. His stare,

not bold or arrogant, but natural,
makes me strangely warm as does his spearing
cry, calling down a reverence for the dusk.
I have witnessed his plummet, through air

rushing too fast to breathe in, falling toward
a point in the water where nothing is.
What does the mullet see at that convergence?
A bullet-shadow covering grainy light,

Leaving the house at dawn, I have witnessed
the osprey on the cross beam of his pole
humming with power, as he tugs out the packed
guts gnashing them down, and I have felt redeemed

in the light that marks us all for sacrifice.
Son, may you find your own pursuing voice,
its argot of praise, Christ-fierce and Christ-wild.
When I hear the osprey’s cry, I know your name.









The Volcano Series

            And the graves were opened; and many bodies . . .
            which slept arose, And came out of the graves after
            his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and
            appeared unto many. Matthew 27:52-53

                        When asked, “Just what is night anyway?”
            Coyote closed his eyes,
            Placed his burden basket over his head
            And began making the sounds of hoot owl.
                        “The Burden Basket,” Elderberry Flute
                                    Song, Peter Blue Cloud

What do you think of the little rumblings, the discontents, the
warpings of fault lines and fissures? What seems to be said takes
some thinking. He led captivity captive.¹ Now that he
ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower
part of the earth.² What could it have been to descend into the
earth: the magma and lava the dark heat nearly sweat lodged there?
Was it where he wandered with his ash bucket, his firepans and
shovel after Calvary, after the graves were opened? What did the
dead do the three days he was in hell preaching on last chance to
the unchanced? Did they look at one another and didn’t quite
know what to do? Maybe some saw their families on the street and
weren’t recognized. How had they changed that they didn’t know
them? It would have been too much anyway for the families to
know their dead were only waiting on Jesus and had three days to
kill and would have to leave again for a second parting while the
families were still grieving from the first. Still others hid out,
pulling their tunics and cloaks and head cloths about them, holding
their little angers, the mistreatments, the rapes, the robberies, and
waited on the edge of town for him to return from hell and take
them in the air.

¹Psalm 68:18
²Ephesians 4:9