Reflections for

All Saints Day, Nov 01, 2015

Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-9 or Isaiah 25:6-9; Psalm 24; Revelation 21:1-6a; John 11:32-44

Poetry

The Feast of All Souls

       November 2

The dead visited this morning: sisters,
parents, aunts and uncles, old professors
and friends—faces so vivid they again
appeared in my room through memory’s lens.

Did families stage a yard sale later
in the Catholic cemetery on Common,
a table set up in the center, orange water
cooler in view? But I am mistaken.

It’s All Souls Day when people assemble
to clean the crumbling graves and to honor
their dead, whose remnant bones sometimes tumble
from ancient crypts, although their souls have soared

like skeins of starlings, whose sudden flight
in sunlight dyes wings a shimmer of white.

Poetry

Nearing Lazarus’ tomb

He’d seen it all. Swathes of nothingness
spun into stars, the slapping of the first fin onto land,
and now these creatures, by far the cleverest
and the saddest—though listing it that way
felt faulty, as if all happenings unfurled inch by inch
instead of blooming in one cacophony,
the apple crumpling just outside the city walls.

And it wasn’t even an apple, or fig,
or pomegranate glinting with infernal seeds,
though he’d accommodate their legends,
accept provisional truths, the same way they worked
with the earth un-sphered and stilled
in leaf-thin sketch.
                              To overlook
imprecision in the premises, concede
to the limits of both flesh and paper,
was what it meant to translate, as to love.
Which struck him as strange pottery:
roll everything that’s been into a coil
and score it with each day; cram self into cage
of clay and bone; daub their closed eyes in slip
and wait for it to flake off to new sight. It seemed to take
what they called a lifetime.

But they didn’t have that, not right here,
beside the village known as House-of-Misery
whose people rent their clothes. Before he even spoke
Mary’s tears were falling warm onto his feet,
carving clear trails through the coat of dust.

If you had been here. He stood
enveloped in the sound of all their moans,
entangled in her locks of dampening hair.
If you had been here. All grief’s audacity
pitched in her splintering voice, she raised her head
to look at him, and in her water-darkened eyes
he who’d seen all things felt this:
pain’s veil dividing now from everything
that is not-now. And he began to weep.

 

Revised Common Lectionary © 1992 the Consultation on Common Texts. Used by permission.