Poetry - February, 2008

Poetry

Sixty

More than half taken up
on the reel, the tape
plays Mozart’s Requiem.
By my front walk
three crocuses, blue
with saffron suns, thrive—
an early spring’s pledge.

At the same time
snow is falling.
It flies aloft
as if some dandelion clock
has blown apart ahead of season;
not a winter’s spite.

The reel takes up the slack
of the Lacrymosa
and I take on the year

its space
its flow
its breath.

Benedictus.







Poetry

Lessons in prayer, from a dog

He assumes his still posture
two feet from the table.
He is not grabby,
his tongue is not hanging out,
he is quiet.

He wants to leap,
he wants to snap up
meat and blood.
You can tell.
But what he does is sit
as the gods
his masters and mistresses
fork steak and potatoes
into their mouths.

He is expectant
but not presumptuous.
He can wait.
He can live with disappointment.
He can abide frustration
and suffer suspense.

He watches
for signals,
he listens for calls
of his name from above.

At hints that
he may be gifted
with a morsel,
he intensifies his
already rapt concentration,
he looks his god
in the eye,
but humbly,
sure of his innocence
in his need,
if his need only.

On the (often rare) occasions
when gifts are laid on his tongue,
he takes them whole,
then instantly resumes
the posture of attention,
beseeching, listening, alert,
the posture of hard-won faith
that will take no for an answer,
yet ever and again hopefully
return to the questioning.









Poetry

Ash Wednesday

no bicep, no bone, no lung
and no cheek, so lean, not
even breath not even earth—
humus, placental—nothing
but dust nothing but ash
burnt up consumed—
not the predominant water
no song and no sound
no taste and no touch no hunger
not even age-lame or deaf
not even tomb-bound and rotting
no pain yes but also no feeling
no hope and no hunger
the end of I and I think
not I hurt or even am nothing
no cross on the forehead
no forehead no
thing at all.
Poetry

Self-examination

This is the last outrage, what women do
in secret, slipping their fingers under bras or nightgowns
on wild, moon-driven nights, needing to true
the circle of their breasts, wanting to lunge
below desire, beneath arousal and beyond
the sweet milk-happiness of feeding children
to find the nuclear godawful contraband
their bodies might be hiding—the refrain
danger, danger, singing in their minds.

At dusk I slip into a pew, enthralled,
alert, combing through the week to find
what might destroy me, to send it away.
Lawyer, accused, bent to root out scandal,
my hands judging. And also, maybe guilty.