Tuesday, December 24, 2013

My Christmas Card to You

(St Andrews Cathedral)

These stones speak a level language
murmured word by word,
a speech pocked and porous with loss,
and the slow hungers of weathering.

And there, in the broken choir, children
are all raised voice, loving the play of outline
and absence where the dissembled god
has shared his shape and homed us.

At the end of the nave, the east front stands
both altered and unchanged,
its arch like a glottal stop.

And what comes across, half-said
into all that space, is that it's enough
to love the air we move through.

Rachael Boast

Pilgrim's Flower

Friday, December 20, 2013

That Obvious Loss

Image of the Day:  Fog obscuring the Rocky Mountains--the whole world in a white-out.

I'm going to apologize right up front for the following blog post as it will not be exactly full of good holiday cheer but my father-in-law died a few days ago so I'm thinking about people's reactions to death--how we cry or don't cry, become angry or tense--not tense exactly but that obvious loss of control and the effort we make to regain control of our life spinning  out before us with our own death one thread whipping outward and then curling in toward us and that feeling of being spun by something unseen and mostly unfelt, except times like this.  Our whole being concentrating on reaching out to steady ourselves, to grab hold of that thread but...
--But I think this is when a death is closer to you, crushes you harder than others around you and you're shattered trying to hold some semblance of self together because other people are able to but there's this hole this fragile sharp hole that's continually and quietly fragmenting splintering and it's hard to catch your breath really but breath is all you can think about because right now you ARE breathing and someone else isn't and how is that possible when just minutes ago they were? And how will it be for you? That one last breath, filling your body for one last time, feeling your self your insides known and not known that emptying out beginning, and how long will it take to end?

A History of Mourning

It's odd that evening is so speckled with grief.
Birds start singing when the branch reddens.
But we write our poems when the sun goes down.

Our ancestors knew how to cry at death; but they
Had enough to do finding big stones to cover
The dead, and begetting new souls to replace them.

We slept on the limestone plains, and woke
Night after night, tracing the route the dead take
Through holes in limestone and on into the stars.

Some hands outlined with blown powder
On the walls of the cave have missing fingers.
We drew maps of the night sky in the dust.

How slowly it all went! One day a woman wept
When she saw a bone reddened with ochre.
A thousand years later, we put a bead in a grave.

Some graves stand among woods. We still don't
Understand why a pine coffin is so beautiful.
We are still brooding over why the sun rises.

Robert Bly

Seven Deadly Sins

My poem is up at the Crab Creek Review Blog.  It was the finalist for last year's poetry prize, which thrilled and absolutely surprised ...