“The Bible is the beginning, the source. But every beginning is also in us, thus you carry in yourself your own Bible, your own Book of Koheleth [Ecclesiastes], and your own Apocalypse.”
Anna Kamienska in Astonishments
What a fortunate frame of reference
with its beginning, middle and end
from creation through growth
and years of work until the last day
a day of revelation of what it all meant––
the purpose in living and now in dying
unless some unforeseen event
has cut the ribbon of life short
as with Thomas Merton shorting out
in an electrical moment. Snap!
But no, let’s go for the fan unplugged
for the lights turned safely on
when we see clearly that we were
called, and to what and why and
how to fill the remaining pages of your
life’s book with text and illustration
of what you have seen and what you
have tasted. Tell it all. Share the wealth
waiting to be written and drawn.
The warmth of sun straightened my back
from the question mark of older age.
In my seventh decade, I found the sun
worshiped in all places and times
of the living earth and understand
why as statement rather than question,
my straightened back all the answer I need.
Second sight is having an eye
that can see through the glass darkly
as if a natural light were lit, and what
had been hid from others was seen plain.
Another kind of second sight followed
the removal of cataracts. That first morning
after surgery, eye patch lifted
I caught my breath at what I saw––
No visitor from the other side but the clear
lines of trunks of trees, individual blades
of grass, daisies awake, white and gold
and looking me in the eye.
The reign of God is like a buried treasure
a man found in a field. Matthew 13: 44
To bury or to burn drafts of poems
stacked two feet high in my writing house––
I have no illusion of them being sought
by academy, library, or even family.
So what’s the point of saving them
and not throwing them in the recycling
bin, onto the town dump, or into the stove?
How quickly those piles of poems
would burn to ash.
I choose not to burn
but to bury, honoring the work by giving
its shaping back to the earth from which it
sprang, a witness to the promise of resurrection.
An alien is spending the night with me.
It wants us to sleep in the same bed.
How can I say no to this guest,
hospitality being a rule of the house.
I wring my hands in consternation.
Why did I ever sign on for this?
Too late to change my mind.
This alien is here for all of the nights
of the rest of my life. Nothing to do
but soldier on, remembering the pain
before it moved in with me.
Jesus, would you say “Ephphatha!” to me
as you said to the man whose ears you opened
whose tongue you loosed so that freed from
impediment, he might speak plainly?
Would you say “Ephphatha!”to me?
And while you’re at it, how about the eyes?
They’ll serve you in any case, but if I could
see clearly and hear again, if I could reclaim
those lost senses, I would lay them down
in this body of mine in service to you complete.
I was on my way in the O.E.D. to ephphatha––
Jesus’ command that opened the ears of a deaf man––
when I came upon ephemeromorph, a general name
for the forms of biological life, which are not
definitely either animal or vegetable.
What a find in this age of transgendered people
finding themselves, and who, like the word
ephemeromorph listed as “rare,” have hung behind
a curtain of invisibility for generations, accused
by the O.E.D. itself and by others of being
a manifestation of the lowest forms of life.
In our time the curtain is being rent, and these
ephemeromorphs find themselves
exposed, not as the lowest of the low,
but as something less rare than was previously thought
that defies classification, and so, control, and quite
beautiful really in their own unclassified way.
What then I saw is more than tongue can say.
Our human speech is dark before the vision.
The Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri
As words failed Dante to describe Paradise
words fail me as I look to the woods
except for the barest verbal skeleton––
trees, brush, sunlight, shadow.
How common. How plain. How failed
a poet, who can only say thank you
for this holy day in mid-September
rife with aster and goldenrod
before the killing frost.