Poetry

Poetry

Anniversary

Did the blessed mother note the measure of the moon?
Ancient church tradition says they came on the same day—
that Gabriel’s whispered “hail” shared Golgotha’s dark noon,
that her pain embraced perfection and who are we to say?

It was exquisite sorrow to have her melody become
counterpoint to her son’s words arduously spoken
that afternoon of agony; below she stood mute, numb,
to watch his body slowly punctured, torn and broken.

How did she ponder and how could her heart sustain
a moment of astonishment, an anniversary gloss,
now—forlorn as vinegar; bitter balm for pain.
But she would hold to his wine, hard-won from torture, loss,

his new wine of forgiveness, now soaking into sod;
trusting it could endow her to forgive even her God.





Sometimes I wish the rain

could wash my impatience away,
my hardness-of-heart rinsed like grit
from the blackberry bush by the road,

the rain-soaked boughs of the sassafras
bobbing in the day-after wind
like waves turning in a lake, a spray of droplets
suddenly shaken down.

I could stand in the field surrounded
by such luxury and feel for a moment lighter
as if I’d forgiven one thing, one.



My mother in Venice

She had another life,
not only the vast expanse
of prairie, but this island
adrift and shimmering.

here she is, in the Frari Church
holding the Child.
Centuries ago Bellini
saw her at the fish market

shivering in the rain,
brought her to the small
fire of his studio
and began brushing her round

face into glow, dressing her
in blue silk—my mother
in this city of mirrors
where the centuries swirl

together, where she still holds
the Child, my Brother,
where she doesn’t hold me.











Wetlands nocturne

(Rhodoms Point, Big Colington Island)

You gave me time. And giving
that, like a master, a miser, gave away nothing.
You knew this all along. For
though you move in cycles and seasons,
you dwell beyond, outside of time and measure, beyond
the scope of words and reasons.
This is what you give, then: a center, a way
of being, that though it moves, lies beyond movement
the way the springs of a well rise
far below the moving waters of their mirrored
surface where they play and spill like the dance of trees
rooted upside down in heaven.
How strange it seems, through the looking glass. For I know
your ways, am one of them with you. Like needle,
like compass, like kayak
I follow you as you follow me.
And moving, am moved toward you. As you
like these waves, make no move at all.
Croatan Sound. Albemarle Sound. Currituck Sound.
Pamlico Sound. The music
of a water wind beyond human names
and naming.

Vanitas still life

When petals from a lavender
larkspur drop onto the gray
rock on the mantel, I let them
stay where they fall, next
to the empty vase,

shocking myself later,
chilled in bone and flesh
by dead blossoms on cold stone
beside a vessel, powerless.