What are these people doing?
What slow dance, moving one
to another, pairs of arms clasped
around backs, necks entwined
like swans. And rocking as if the ground
beneath them beats with a rhythm,
fluid. Both exotic and nostalgic.
Not the clutch of passion, the simple
meeting of belly to belly. Like food
but sweeter, meatier.
I salivate tears. My whole body
hungering for touch.
While we’re separated here by illness,
the bold forsythia risks the nightly
cold to burst forth in golden flame.
Likewise, the chokecherry, with its
furry buds, lifts its arms the way
I’ve heard that trees breathe
at night when we’re not watching.
And the red maple has nascent keys
dangling like platelets, small spurts
from its heart.
Life hurts. We go on,
even when we feel we can’t go on.
Go on.Go on. Walk the floor
to the nearest window. Something
out there is singing.
What is blooming
in you today that you’re mistaking as pain?
Whatever time of day it is,
wherever you are, crowded
city, tenement with its narrow stoop,
or high rise with its pricey airspace,
the streets are empty.
Stand and face,
the sky. Be patient, are there clouds,
continents shifting against the blue,
or a slip of moon? Windows bright with life,
laundry hung to dry?
Or if your suburban
house has a yard, a lawn, maybe
a bush or some weeds, or maybe you’ve
tended the grass, mulched the beds
and flowers spring up from the thawing ground.
Are you in a country lane? A farm?
Cattle, sheep, horses—even wheat
Here is the news you need:
this blue and green marble continues to spin
bringing the new day and rich black night—
beyond the lights that burn to keep your fear
away. The fences are plunged into soil,
the wrappers lifted by wind.
The songs of birds
calling each other is all you need to learn.
This morning I worshipped God
in the light on frozen grass
that shone like a thousand windows
of stained glass. I worshipped the crack
of wood, its sculptured grain
that contains the imprint of years
of rain. I prayed on my knees for the fire
in the stove, warmth and home.
I prayed before the altar of candle
and smoke to those who hear and hold
the suffering of the world. I prayed
to be of service. I prayed for you, pastor
and supplicant of the mega church
with its walls and roof, its bodies
tightly packed in stadium pews.
Be still, and know that I am here,
came the answer in the empty room.