I’ve come by grace to this sacred time
I call the moment at hand.
I celebrate at the kitchen sink,
this altar, the yes of resurrection
of promise of clean dishes and glasses
raised up out of scum and residue
rinsed under water hot and flowing.
Again tonight I give the altar call:
Clear the table.
Wipe these dishes.
Come on, you kids:
Let’s get this show on the road.
A Poem by Jane Costlow
Squirrel slides off our roof
into the barrel of pollen-scummed rain, into
the big black trash can beside the beach rose.
A lid might have saved him.
On sunny summer days it waters the garden.
The morning’s post-storm stillness interrupted
by this floating corpse. One more.
Beneath our blooms and clover
it’s a graveyard out there: beloved felines, disemboweled
possum, the bird that hit the window.
Sleek stiff hair, already smelly,
it slides off the shovel and into the back-fence hole
beside the compost. Dust to dust.
Air, water, earth.
The fire of sun
steams off the heavy dew.
All our bodies fall into what comes next.
Et in arcadia the heat of life slips
quickly down to cold, once the course is run.
Morning light skids down the shingles.
Peas and basil lift with the warming air.
My stomach turns inside me.
I’m the only one
in this joint who knows the end.
If this is the first day, if this is the last
it will be enough to have lived it
giving thanks for the red of the swamp
maple, the yellow of dandelion––
for lilac on the edge of the field
and red-winged blackbird’s pale blue
eggs spotted and scrawled with brown
and purple, hidden in a cup of marsh
grass, visible to One who watches over
and calls forth the life that stirs
in that reedy grass.
I dug the well an inch at a time
through matted grass, soil and gravel
clay and soft rock, down and down
’til at nine feet the water flowed.
The vein was slow when it first bled
but now the channel cleared of dross
pumps pure from the heart of earth
and cannot be turned off.
Hover and dive, O winged One.
Come in a burst of feather.
Your prey awaits your rending beak:
Come and leave nothing but the bones
of a poem. Amen.
…for the life and work of Seamus Heaney
for the Muse who drew him through himself
then out of himself to translate the world
to us in tongues not easy to understand
but in allowing the power of language
to hold us, meaning flows, and in reverie
we know who he is: Bard in the wilder-
ness who did not abandon his native land
of human touch. He left a path of words
to follow, crumbs he had dropped
on his way out to the poems.