Poetry

Poetry

Grace

We say grace before we start
to eat good things together, as if
our thin voices could somehow
divine it. We call it table grace,
as if it were the elegance of furniture.
We say a woman has it in the way
she moves. We equate it with luck
sometimes, modify it with sheer
as if we could shave it to size.

Our gesture is not the real thing,
we know that, that’s wholly
Your deal. This is mere posture—
or should we say sheer posture—
a way to halt moving limbs, to cease
together here, to allow a tilt
toward gratitude

Aging tulips

See, it’s not sweet youth
that touts a wildness, but crazy
old age. Beauty shifts. Plump
pink petals fall away, or stay,
curling every which way,
like stiff, unruly hair, dried
to a deep blood-red.

The once-upright congregation-
in-a-vase flops over, losing their
heads, but that’s all right. They
find another life in unconventional
gesture, extravagant dance:
this still troupe, ecstatic,
with nothing left to lose.

Evensong

All winter the fish lounge at the bottom of the pond
squinting up now and then toward the cloudy light
beyond the ice, but mostly skulking behind cold wet shadows
like teenage guys down in the basement
hanging out, waiting for life to happen
dreaming elongated nursery rhymes
feeling the submerged sluggish vibrations of the earth
a faint quiver of the moon’s pull on the tides.

After Easter, though, they dopily drift toward the surface
where I am waiting patiently with
something like civilization in mind.
Sooner or later they’ll make the connection:
they get their daily bread from me.
And in return I get
a glimpse of their elusive grace,
their perfect freedom organized into evening ritual.

Peter wept

He stalks the dark before dawn,
hackles up, a surly chanticleer
with a raised blade, black
tail feathers flicking back and forth.

A fit clenches him whole,
strains his red-combed head
into one shrill remonstrance
that scythes clean through
night’s manifold silence.
An ear bleeds in the courtyard.

Morning now rent,
the sun hangs low by a wire,
a naked bulb bearing down on this day
the full weight of tendered debt:
I never knew him.

The rooster glints green;
his round eyes dart;
he scratches and stabs the dust
for seed at the foot of a tree.





Another Lent

So here we go again.
The grit of darkened seasons past
between the eyes, across the brow.
The purple cloths of grief,
tall cloistered candles, numbered days.
Six more weeks of wintered trudging
through a wilderness bereft of alleluias.
All this to show that everything we know—
and are—is dust
and will return in just the way it came
and always has come.
Yet, here and there, bent brave above the snow
the clustered Lenten rose bleeds color
from pale sunlight,
gently points itself toward a cross,
an emptied cave,
that bright unending summer
glimpsed in childhood,
and forever after longed for
past the terminus of measured time.