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.

The word became flesh

A flash of colored wing;
peacock, pheasant brilliance—
turquoise, scarlet, green, bronze,
settled soft to downy quiet.
Then he spoke a greeting,
the same tone as the deepest bell.

He addressed her as favored.
Favored? By what? By whom?
Even her wonder and her awe
did not erase her reason.
They conversed between two worlds
until she clearly understood.

When she consented and he left,
she wondered how her world would be
able to wear such brightness.
His words still rang the spring air
and one, which seemed the sum of all,
resounded, rounded, and remained.


Two geologists made this word
from the Greek, petros for stone,
and ichor, for the liquid that flows
through the veins of the gods.
They wanted to name the scent
of parched earth after fresh rain:
The reconstituted redolence
of salted silt marbled
with terracotta. This old,
dry world brought back
to loamy life—another name
for mercy.

Contemplative prayer with peony

So, I didn’t latch onto a holy word
and go into space and, ethereal,
lose touch with my body. But God,
in those thirty slow minutes, you
unfolded in me the bud of a fresh
flower, with color and fragrance
that was more than my soul
was capable of, on its own.

. . . We all, with unveiled face,
behold as in a mirror
the glory of the Lord.

And when the peony showed up,
I knew it as a kind of mirror. This
was glory in pink and cream, with
a smell of heaven. Petals like valves
opening into the colors of my heart.

I saw myself kneeling on a grass border,
my knees bruising the green, pressing
my face into the face of this silken,
just-opened bloom, and breathing it,
wanting to drown in it. Wanting
to grow in its reflected image.