Poetry

Poetry

A man in his life

A man doesn’t have time in his life
to have time for everything.
He doesn’t have seasons enough to have
a season for every purpose. Ecclesiastes
was wrong about that.

A man needs to love and to hate at the same moment,
to laugh and cry with the same eyes,
with the same hands to throw stones and to gather them,
to make love in war and war in love.

And to hate and forgive and remember and forget,
to arrange and confuse, to eat and to digest
what history
takes years and years to do.

A man doesn’t have time.
When he loses he seeks, when he finds
he forgets, when he forgets he loves, when he loves
he begins to forget.

And his soul is seasoned, his soul
is very professional.
Only his body remains forever
an amateur. It tries and it misses,
gets muddled, doesn't learn a thing,
drunk and blind in its pleasures
and in its pains.

He will die as figs die in autumn,
shriveled and full of himself and sweet,
the leaves growing dry on the ground,
the bare branches already pointing to the place
where there’s time for everything.

Washed

     For Carl Trovall

His fingers kiss the crown of my distress,
my tresses gently lingering in his hold
while frankincense makes dizzy unto death.
Newly blanched, the black ewe joins the fold

and what is sin of me is gone, released.
Oh wetly, I am held to this. Delight,
shines the cruciform pose of the priest.
There’s Jesus in his hands. The water’s white.



The sailing

My mother lifts her blue-veined
   hand, “I’m ready to go.”
       She stares into the white wall,

which billows into a sail.
   Little boat of bones.
       In dream she is carried

by a swift river, wearing
   a red dress. Clear water,
       and I on the bank.

But she doesn’t see me.
   She has become one with motion.
       Even in water she is fire.





Sorrow stalks me in an old coat

the color of churned water.
I have worn it for years—
it no longer fits, tugs at the waist
where I have grown under cover,
spreading like roots, like grief,
swelling in rows of deep rhizomes
long after sowing. How often
can a heart break? When
might I be rid of this old coat?

Question

What if the kingdom
is solider than this door,
stauncher than walls of oak,
what if hope
resounds louder than the thick
brass knocker on the bank door?

What if flimsy
translucent angel wings
lauded in song, but delicate as moth,
last night tore apart a mountain
merely accidentally brushing by?

What if grace is denser than iron—
and light, even unbraided,
breaks the fall of a stone.