Poetry

Poetry

Andrew son of Jonah

He’s always been my level-headed son
& so I let him wander the wilderness
after his bruised-reed prophet
since he’d always return        to mend the nets
& chase another catch     I’d thought

Simon was the impetuous one
but Andrew was as steady as a boat on sand
When the Baptiser admitted      he wasn’t the man
he pointed out the Lamb of God
& Andrew was caught

He followed        & brought Simon
& some other local boys along too
What was I supposed to do?
I only had a fishing life
& he had much more to offer      than I’d got

I only wish it had been when I was young
that Messiah came      not leaving me to fish
& grow old       with the same ache in my bones
my two sons following the unknown
leaving me with naught

Baptism

A pane breaks into water as we enter death
and burial to imitate Christ. Faith is measured

this way, by one’s willingness to submit
to what one cannot comprehend. We rise up

as new creatures, but in what sense have we
shifted? In those seconds under water’s

smooth door, do our bodies lap over
this world’s edge to the next? Do the angels

who see us rejoice
to bear witness before we rise up, closing

the door between us? Our lives’ balance
on the wing of what we give up, yet desire.

A bird imitates, but is said to have no
perception. Yet some believe it was a bird

who plunged the primordial sea,
bringing mud to the surface to form the earth

we’re made from; their wings opening in the shape
of a cross, our fondest dreams of flight.

The traveler ponders some rumors that have reached his ears

He’s heard stories of amber, of winter storms that deposit
yellow knurls and knuckles the length of the long beach
that runs north to Palanga, of roads jammed even in winter
on a fair Sunday with beachcombers eager for treasure.
He’s not found that road yet, shy or distracted or put off
by some vague sense that the old powers should be
cautiously approached. He’s read that the Christians found
this land hard to enter, the people stubborn, claiming
to be happy with the gods they knew. That’s been centuries.
Still the borders mean something. Still the news is bloody
and not so far away. The traveler read in the U.S. news
that there’s new word form Vilnius: if the Russians come,
stay calm. Show up for work. Hug your children. The traveler
has noticed nothing scary, but he knows he’s wearing
a snug cocoon of ignorance. Anyway another source insisted
that the message was mostly about storms, fire, earthquakes,
the Russians only one of many perils that need forethought
but not fear. He doesn’t know whether the bundled souls
he passes on his night walks are brooding on blood, or thinking
only of their doors and dinner and a drink, or wondering
how much amber the last storm of winter washed up
on the beach, how much waits half-buried to give itself
to any walker, golden as cool fragments of a lost sun.

The still pilgrim’s thoughts upon rising

Blessed sleep and the long call of light.
The morning a mercy of birds.
Returned from the black hole of being,
she finds all as she left it last night.
The chairs askew, the table crumbs,
the dishes stacked up in the sink.
Yesterday’s dress tossed across the bed.
It’s enough to make her think

of how the world just waits for us
attending to its nightly song,
of how we breathe in time with it
and rise again with each new dawn,
of how we bear the miracle
and find ourselves where we belong.

Christmas poem

This house I have stands deep,
Dimensionless in me.
Here I can sing and weep.
Here God can come to be.

Flimsy as an old stable,
It’s a porous place to dwell.
I’ve proved hopelessly unable
To seal it off from hell.

The Holy Innocents
Are growing every day
In number. Someone repents
And, turning, turns away.

This house I have stands deep,
Dimensionless in me.
Keep Christmas here, Child. Keep
Your weakness bright to see.