Poetry - April, 2005

Poetry

Synge at Dun Aengus

At the white line of the shore,
where sight loses sense—
to the sure edge of things—I’ve carried me west.

No hope now in Paris . . .
its finery and absinthe,
nights marbled with comfort. And truth? But a tenth

of the whole: lichen
hard upon stones.
Gray within some grayer gray. The only motion—a lone

gannet glides above
the steel-dark surge. Galway
lumbers, crumbling, under an old Imperial sway—

its harbor lights spark
from ages out.
Rock, turf and shore. Here, at least, no doubt.

There is the sky.
There is the sea.
There is the narrow road down to the quay.













Poetry

Children in the long grass

She likes to watch her children
in the long grass, how they disappear,
emerge, like they’re swimming in
an ocean without current but the one
of growing. See how the long blades
part for them, how they close up
all around, Watch the gold
heads bob, hands reach up for
the sun as if it’s the transportation
of these years. Hear the silence,
the safe silence. And then
the muffled noise rolling through
the shafts, secured forever by the
wrinkled smile of her hearing.
Children are nature’s people now,
but her nature too, the one that
says, play here, will later sigh,
but how could I prevent you.



Poetry

Spring inventory/Ursuline Mother House/Paola, Kansas

Thanks for this window, three stories up,
and the breeze in the curtains, laundered by the rain,
for the unrolling leaves, green and silver.

Thanks for the red-tile roof and the clean white
cornice, for the blue-gray wings in the eaves,
coming, going, spread cruciform.

Thanks for the quicksilver sky caught
in a bowl, for frogs in the garden,
flip-flap, chitter-chatter trees,

and that one persistent whistler whose
song flies out like line
from a fisherman’s reel.

This is my song, too,
cast out, cast
out.







Poetry

Intercession

Winter dawn pinks even this dirty air,
here where the currents of the world
stall between mountain ranges.
We awaken inhaling fumes and dust,
the calls of crows, breath and prayers
from around the globe.

A child in church, I knelt with
the congregation, leaned into the wails
of women around me pleading for the son
lost to Chicago, for Hiroshimo’s victims,
the girl with the iron lung. They would
begin on a pitch around middle C
and slowly rise with arched phrases
into a high tremolo toward the amen,
as though reaching to heaven.

Now the sun tears
the gray veil, and doves repeat
their soft, low moaning, for heaven
is nearer than we think—in the undersides
of leaves and in their shine,
warmth on my shoulder, scent of bread.
Even in that sick, black night when a man
stood in the center of the lane, his arms
out, pleading for the headlights to come in,
as we stood beside him, now in a silent
heap, his boots flung off, as we
breathed “mercy,” as we breathed “help.”







Poetry

Now we see . . . darkly

Sometimes, at end of day, but not of care,
Mozart or Beethoven our aural food,
Her hand reaches into empty air,
A tactile search for something understood;
This is a nurse’s hand, a hand that heals,
And yet, the reaching gives no hint of sense,
No hint revealing what it is she feels,
But still, incarnate eloquence.
Perhaps it is within these vacancies
That meaning lies. Or in the mystery
Surrounding us in health, and in disease.
Perhaps Alzheimer’s gives epiphany.
She reaches her hand into the empty air;
Who dares to say that there was nothing there?