A Time to Die
The last of times is peace, not you. It's clear
that you are just a cycle, round and cold
enfolding spring in caves of winter. Fear
of you is prevalent. But marble-bold
with color, clear and circular you hold
a fleck of life inside your frozen glass.
Whether it's a romance or a life (gold
with ripeness, now mute . . . stilled) a season, mass
of lilies in a vase, a bird, a song,
no matter what you take, you are an arc
and not an end. You're pain, you're hate, you're wrong
but you're a doorway, nourishment, a spark--
To go gently is to rage, then pass through
and know the last of times is peace, not you.
A Time to Plant
Will it be seeds this time--like every spring?
or maybe as they descend from my hand
like earth-shells into loam, my hopes will cling
to their smooth backs and fall into the land.
I'll bury them, kernels of waiting, germs
of "when will my time finally come?" and with
the roots and soil, down there with the worms
my expectations will grow, wriggle. Myth
can do this sort of thing--metaphor, too.
So then, if a faint glaze of sweat
can adhere to a seed, why not the dew
of thoughts or memories? Let them get wet
and watered, sputter mutely in the mud
then rise and return in a stronger bud.
A Time to Weep and a Time to Laugh
I've been a candle lately, as my flame--
thin, fragile, flickers with each passing breeze,
and every breeze is you. To hear your name
or speak it brings the memories. And these
things puddle in a tapered rain. I cry
but my tears are not cool or even warm.
They're hot; a stream of melting wax. Ask why
I speak of grief as fire, not as storm
or hail or anything like that. I'll tell
you that longing and losing is a burn
as red as apples, thick as caramel.
And even when the weeping stops . . . return
to calm is heavy, like the glossy wax
of candied fruit, or this candle's dripped tracks.
And now amusement gathers, as a trail
of laughter trickles down my flesh like tracks
of thick wax dripping down--forming a Braille
of gathered candle ooze. And when their backs
are stroked, the ridges laugh a language, wax
comedic--until just a look or touch
from you, my comic, and composure cracks.
My body is ceraceous with mirth. Much
more of this and I'll begin to melt. My
softening is your strength, and mine too
as I forget all worries while your wry
spoofs, sarcasm and jokes entertain. You
laugh at me, also, and that seeping heat
(like honey from the wick) is where we meet.
A Time to Rend and Sew
I. A Time to Rend
(Job Addresses God)
"Then Job began to tear his cloak and cut off his hair" (Job 1:20).
The silence is all. Though I want to split
the stillness of this day with fractured cries,
and tear this room apart, I will admit
that such a sundering would not be wise.
What would it do to shatter every dish,
or smash the vases, break each cup and bowl?
How would that change what I've begun to wish--
that I could go right back to being whole--
even if it meant forgetting you and
the great pain that loving you has brought?--
I tore my hair today. You understand?
My clothing, too. I wait for you to cry
out, ask me not to harm myself. I won't.
But I know loneliness. And God, you don't.
II. A Time to Sew
(God Answers Job)
"Who is this that obscures divine plans with words of ignorance?
Where were you when I founded the earth?" (Job 38: 2,4)
You say I don't know loneliness. What, Job,
you've never seen the chasms between stars?
Observe the distance of your heart, then probe
yourself for answers. Look down at your scars.
You think I put them there, I know. But pain
is from your world, not mine. And all the while
I plan my entrance. Gardens all need rain
to raise their beauty. My plot grows a trial
of such deep suffering, the torn curtain
of a great temple will be how I rend
the earth of sleep. Sacrifice makes certain
a love that will not hesitate or end.
Mend yourself, now. Follow my command.
(I'm pierced in ways you'll never understand.)
A Time for Silence
And every bursting forth rising in me,
each noise of joy and mourning and release
that clamors through my thoughts to unwind, free
itself of sound and drift to emptied peace
is now held back, restrained, suppressed. Instead
this voice is breezeless; all the chimes are still.
Everything is mute--a winter bed
slept in by one--sheets cold, white as a pill.
This conversation has its partners, though.
Insight, reflection, prayer, and not least, grace
run warm fingers through the white-iris snow
that gathers from my thoughts at steady pace.
The bold and sun-drenched streak there in the white
of that mute flower is the spoken light.