Church is a machine for the making of saints,
not so different from the making of sausage
the process of which you don’t want to see.
It may be the same with the saints––
God at work in the human soul, sweating
betraying an image we cannot abide.
But who’s to say what goes on inside any man
woman or child? God knows and perseveres,
poking, prodding, sometimes with fire
seeming oblivious to the pain induced, which
must be serving some purpose, some use,
hidden as is the process for making sausage.
I thought I heard a child upstairs.
This house too new for ghosts
I thought it must be the bird I heard––
the brown and white homing pigeon
you bought at the Common Ground Fair.
I hear it again, wings beating
against its makeshift cage, fashioned
to thwart its flight.
Water dish flipped, grain scattered
a wet mess to greet you when you come home.
You at 17 wanting your freedom, throwing your clothes
and loud music around your room like grain
and water. How soon, little bird, will you fly away?
And will you return like the homing pigeon
to this place where you early learned to fly?
Like many others seeking a measure of escape and relief from the current craziness in Washington, my sister and I went to the movies yesterday, and LA LA Land filled the bill. It was a tonic and an encouragement that the artistic community is irrepressible and will not be denied.
I wrote the following poem to mark the occasion with gratitude for community in all its forms, even those on the “big screen.”
After Seeing LA LA Land
We were all about politics as we rode to the Cineplex
hoping to lift ourselves from the slough of despond
with song and dance and great acting by pro’s
who rose to poetry on the screen. Emma Stone, Ryan
Gosling––how to repay them for their hard work?
Did they know they’d be antidote to despair
like Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire
Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert
who allowed us to escape for hours at a time
in a time that threatened peace and joy and life
itself perhaps? That’s the role that Stone and Gosling
played today in this gift of film. Hooray! for movies
and the people who bring them to us.
Don’t tell my grandson I’ve gone to sleep.
He might be afraid to sleep at night, might
worry he’ll disappear and not come back.
Small children with few exceptions are
literalists, and The Big Sleep doesn’t
work for them as it might for us. Tell him
the truth: I’m gone, but the love I had
and have remains forever. Tell him that
and wherever I am, I will follow through
”on a wing and a prayer.” I know it’s true
and pass it on through you, to him at two.
To Paraphrase …
“The movement of the universe is toward symmetry
according to Archibald MacLeish,
and that according to his physicist friend––
very young, and very brilliant––
who offers mathematical reasons
MacLeish does not understand.”
From a conversation with Archibald MacLeish and Bill Moyers, March 7, 1976
What he did understand was love.
While there is nothing in symmetry to which one would turn
with a broken heart
(“You don’t weep on the bosom of symmetry,” he said.)
the real vocabulary, it seems to me, in which one
can catch the nature … of the spirit, the entity
that has to do with our lives and their meaning,
that perhaps knows the meaning of our lives,
is very much closer to ourselves through the channel,
the medium of love.
And to me the fundamental truth of Jesus
is that he does move love into the center
of human experience. Love is the answer
to the mystery of the Universe––a bit more childish
than I want to be and yet, there is something there.
There is something there.
for my grandson, Ezra
A monk in a hairshirt is no surprise,
but how much more on a three-year-old
who in a moment of love for his nenna
secreted a bracelet in his slipper, from
his day care center as gift for her and
trod upon for a whole day. Did the plastic
beads dig into his tender foot? Did the five
little piggies squeal and ouch? The answer
lost in that day’s history is found
in the bracelet itself, hung over the sink
in his nenna’s kitchen where she washes
dishes beneath the glow of the pink halo
hanging there. Beyond penance, beyond
pain, this bit of chosen love shines forever.