Two Annes

                           (For Hutchinson and Bradstreet)

One took the colony by the heels, slapping its flank
until it issued a broad cry of rage. Tall and forbidding,
she waxed both sharp and sweet, flying in the angry
face of magistrates, chafing the tender hearts
of the unregenerate gently with her tireless voice.
She coaxed as women labored in their cramped beds of pain.

The other fashioned quills and parsed her poems in clean
white sheets. Still, her clumsy child shamed her,
walking on stumbling feet, as real a “monstrous birth”
as the first Anne’s tissue of stubborn clots. What was it
she tried to say, poet in a wife’s starched linen,
submitting to her tasks and thanking God without
conviction for each bitter loss? Sarah, Hagar
in exile, she too never went back; the stormy Atlantic
roiled, keeping her margins, her heart rising
within her and rising, rising again.

As I sleep

Turning as I sleep, I take
Across my eyes the silent words
Sung by our old sun’s golden birds—
They hope I will awake.

Learning, I have longed to shake
An apple from the sacred tree
That sings sleep into unity—
Before my true day-break:

Yearning, at the end, to make
My entrance in a gown of light
Woven of day, woven of night—
Hearing, at last, “Awake!”

The question

          Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?”
                                                                                           John 6:68

Never the I-dare-you gauntlet in his sack,
Full as it was with fishhooks and the like,
A whittled bird—industry of Nazareth,
A cowl his mother wove;

And when he looked at twelve men lingering,
Some women, too—intrepid girls
Whom others labeled bold,

Where boldness grew transparent.

As I was saying, when he looked . . . he thought,
How numbered, wayward, pitiful,
Their feet, caked from their trekking back and forth,
Poolside to shade, where he would speak

Of busheled lamps and fig trees.
Should he demand excess, when all the rest
Had shuffled back to portals and to sleep?
And, if he did, how many—if any—would say, yes?

John’s mother would be horrified, of course,
So young, and he had mesmerized her baby. Would
Golgotha go quicker by his side? And what
Of Peter’s wife: another net suspended.

The sun basted the hillocks purple-green;
The men shifted their feet, the women pulled
Blue cotton, hid their hair—Now what?
And so—at odds, the flesh of his heart hefting his

Love, he looked at each and asked, full knowing
They had nowhere, not any where, to go.

The mind's eye

Could be the sun, if it ever was.
                                                          Darkening sky, darker shapes
not shadows but clouds
                                           shapes only you can see—
smoke from a fire,
                                 that dream about your mother.

Could be the thing at the back of your eye
                                                                            upside down
until the brain turns it around—

trees walking on their leaves,
                                                      wearing their roots like hair.

Could be the thought you forgot
                                                            then remembered later
after everyone had gone.

In the daytime it’d be different.
                                                       Everything white and fluffy.
The sky blue.

Still the half-formed shape, the real beneath.

If, then

A wave in the water. The word
              opens, shape for knowing
                            at edges, darker fields, trouble:
a wave in the water. The word
                            waits long to shatter on silence,
                             prove, prove that falling is
a wave. In the water, the word
              opens, shape for knowing.