Elegy for eulogies

Sometimes we were surprised  
or not
but always we felt bad
to hear
there’ll be no funeral
no kind
of memorial service
no way
to celebrate those lives
a pixeled program on
a screen.

All of us did our best
but still
it seemed like standing at
the graves
of souls forever marked

December thaw

Mist rose from every morsel    as if all of earth          exhaled

Stumps         once-stiff          sank        into damp wormdirt

Ice-green salt scattered    sidewalks     like     shattered   glass

Silent night

With wise men, a mom, countless sheep,
and infinite nights of stars,
songs like bushtits swirl off in old leaves,
a twittering lost afar.

What more can anyone know
scanning our muted sky
than how wanting we are, and how a strange glow
could quicken our breaths passing by?

COVID classroom, 2020

Just after eight on a warm October morning,
under a white canopy, the sun comes smoking
through the redwoods into the eyes and paisley
mask of a young woman front-and-center.

She is bent over a quiz on Moses, Man of the Mountain,
a novel by Zora Neale Hurston, and her dreads
drop into empty space as she leans
her head to one side.  Only nine of thirteen students
are here so far, their motivation starting to fade
at the end of four weeks online and one week out-of-doors.

God’s own language

The Hindi service is at nine o’clock,
the Gujarati is at ten. I pick
the later one so when it’s done I’ll stick
around when people have the time to talk.

And sure enough, my presence in the church
this summer morning raises smiles and nods
from immigrants from India laying odds
this older, gray-haired stranger’s on a search.

They’re right. This church is where my father’s parents
had worshipped God with somber Nordic joy
in Methodist Evanston, Illinois.
Methodist still, this church’s declarants