I often arrive at a boundary that leaves me at the gate at a time to fish or cut bait or just wait at the border of this or that for better or worse perform or rehearse begin again or end— on my mark to there, at the finish from where.
And that’s when I need some now-or-never word, as when Jesus sat with the woman at the well waiting for a snarl of men to stone her, and reach out to her writing something in the sand for her for them and wrote again, then spoke his boundary-breaking words piercing to the bone that would kill their will and let them all go home.
Christ lives in my unchosen life, resident In the upright ashes of these brittle bones, Mapping blood routes and checking airways, Catching the breaking news in my nerves,
Ever exploring under wrinkling tissue skin For portal throughout my temporal universe, Arriving at last behind these old searching eyes And, through haunting blur, giving vision to wings
Of candle flames fluttering about the altar’s cross As pipes, chimes and steeple bells ring, resonate And indwell, bidding me, familiar beggar at table, To take bread and wine like a taster for the king.
It was an overcast late autumn day With a boisterous wind ripping away last leaves From already wintering trees to play A rackety childhood game we called Bank-n-Thieves.
All along our street, the wind was grabbing whole arms-full Of my banked leaves, and sailing away too far to be seen By these old eyes of one who already feels the awful pull Of nature that leaves nothing young and green.
Oh yes, the trees will leaf out again, or keep their odds— Some die—but seasons now revive the ancient myth Of something clearly awry among the gods In Paradise, as we must deal with
Out-of-season subzero ice and snow So that instead of sweaters we wear insulated coats; And if it be my fate that I should go Where they still separate sheep from goats
I’ll hope to be a woolly one who will remain In a gentle zone of temperate cool Regardless of the weather, until we perhaps regain Some hope that seasonal sanity is again the rule.
For now in my own winter, the dark whisper seems Often at my ear, insisting that I should keep Preparing for the journey I mostly sense in dreams, While I remain the weary child fighting sleep.
I am imagining the soldier who drove the nails, clambering around or across the body, straddling and stretching to reach the hands, trying to avoid seeing the face and eyes, ignoring the eternal life line dividing the palms from fingers down to wrists, glimpsing the lips moving silently, mouthing words not meant for ears to hear; And I’m wondering how many keepers of reliquaries claim to own those nails, or perhaps even the letter home written by the nailer or some other soldier ordered later to do his duty and pull them out.