Mary Oliver wonders
what it is
that I will accomplish
and on that today for me in July
I write a letter to the editor
of America magazine re an issue
I feel strongly about.
I read Philip Booth and hope
and pray he is with me today
in all my work––
I wash the sheets. The clean
bed awaits the quiet of night.
Holy. Holy. Holy.
Mary, look at the camera.
Joseph? Move in a bit closer.
There. Both of you, smile.
And now, click.
That’s it. We’ve got it.
The family photo
this first night of his life
This is big news.
It will be all over the Internet
by morning. If he is who
he’s cracked up to be
this is the story of the century.
I’ll get back to you
with a hard copy.
I’m sure you’ll want to
remember this night forever.
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.
If ever I needed further proof
that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
was still active in our fallen world,
I found that proof in you. In your seeing
what had to be done and doing it
with a passion that consumed your life.
A prophet indeed, and more than a prophet––
a man for all seasons, tested and found
worthy of the task assigned.
Now you go on in support of the life
you called into being by your bold action
knowing this is how the kingdom will come.
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.
Lift up your hands, your empty hands
and pray for the starving,
Your heart emptied of prayer, now
pick up the pen in your empty hand
and write a check to address hunger’s pain.