Poetry - March, 2005

Poetry

Conspiracies

Listen! And hear the whispers of uprisings
all about you, springing not from the blood
of desperation, revolt from under the grinding heel
of emperies; grounded instead in eastering
earth and its hovering Spirit. Conspiracies
of roots and bulbs and seeds! And who knows
what under the stones the worms are up to?



Poetry

Bell

      Good Friday, 2004

Since time flies one way like an arrow,
the sugar can’t be stirred out of your oatmeal
and no matter how long the murderer sobs
on the median strip—sorry!—he can’t reverse
his swerve, cannot rescind his drink

before the crash. Like him, was Jesus heartsick
to find history’s not a zipper running both ways?
He who loved eternity—its roominess,
its reversibility—as he grew up, did he
have to learn he never could unsay a thing

he’d said? And yet today, like all Good Fridays,
He hangs on the cross again. On altars
he hangs. On necklaces. His death is like an x
that rides the wheels of time to come again
in ritual, that miniature eternity, that spring

re-sprung. Dear God, there in your big eternity,
remember that your hands and feet can never
be unscarred again. Hear these words spoken
by a body that suffers, by a tongue
that will stiffen soon and be gone.

Have mercy on us who love time.
May this prayer be a tire
that rolls over every inch of the way
to find You. May it be a bell
which can never be unrung.









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.





Poetry

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.











Poetry

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.

Poetry

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.

Poetry

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.