A granite chip, Heaney writes
is “jaggy, salty, punitive
and exacting. Come to me, it says
all of you who labor and are
burdened, I will not refresh you.
And, You can take me or leave me.”
These words of Heaney’s have entered in.
I know them true. What do I do with them
is the question. The “how” hard upon me,
I need to respond to the invitation
not knowing finally what
that response might mean.
A single flame when I toss
a bit of paper into the stove––
So much for our quaint lives––
a quick flash of light and heat
and then does the life burn down to ash.
Was someone warmed by my brief light?
That is the last question I have to answer
Consider humus, that gift to the garden,
of rot. Layers and layers of life lived
of hurt and healing God knows
and presses down upon, compacting soil
and all matter, factored in to fertilizer
that grows the soul, making a way
for humility in place of arrogance.
Death before life is axiomatic; only
hear what Jesus said: that a grain
of wheat must fall to the ground before
it can ever give life; be gathered, threshed
and ground to flour, to make bread, to be
broken and fed to all for the sake of God,
who is Source of life, of rot, of humus,
that gift to the garden. Consider.
When I was a child, I wished for a house
a small house in the woods where I could write.
I made the wish on no star, prayed to no god per se;
it was simply the unspoken wish of a child’s heart
brought to mind on a latter day
when I was grown and walking home
from my writing house on the edge of the woods
in Maine. Understanding came in a moment complete:
I had the desire of my heart.
Go with your first instinct.
Get it down quick before your critic
cuts in to take over the lead
for the dance of this poem
that’s only begun.
Go with the one who brought you.