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Seed-Hymn

Lay me down beneath the earth,

And I won’t care if I’m buried

Or sown,

So long as your hands hold the shovel.

 

Pour the rain down on me,

And I won’t care if I’m baptized

Or drowned,

So long as your hands hold me under.

 

Cut me down when harvest comes,

Be it for the burning

Or the barn,

So long as your hands gather me.


Sabbath Beach

I could see that you were tired

Though I knew that you would weep

I took you from your mother

To walk with you and make you sleep.

 

You break on me like a wave

Pitched between your grief and fury

Wailing out your love for her

Howling your hate for me.

 

Against your will I rock you

To the sound the breakers make

Cradle all your love and hate

Up the shore of this great lake.

 

I walk all your weeping out

Until you are sleeping in

The hollow place between my

Aching shoulder and my chin.

 

Just another year or two

And then I will not be strong

Enough to carry you

For so far or for so long.

 

Just another year or two

And then I won’t be able

To force you to take your rest

Sabbath bed or banquet table

 

And I fear that no one will

And I fear therefore you won’t

As I find that I cannot

And as then I find I don’t.


Red Stuff

Down by the river, my little son

Is snapping twigs and tossing them

To see the runoff carry them away

I watch until my mind goes wandering.

 

“What’s that red stuff?” I hear him say

I look down, absently to see

His white star-fingers staining red

With a thing he has no word for.

 

The pain has not yet arrived

He is not afraid to touch and taste it

But I see the moment when it does

And I watch it change his face.

 

When tears are dried and wound is bound

I teach him the word for it

But the meaning of the word

Is the meaning of the world

 

And I won’t teach him that today.

 


Donkey-Work

Walk the path a thousand times

From the kitchen to the well.

Sweep until the dirt is gone

Clean until the chaos flees.

 

Tear down the old corrupted things

Raise up the new creations.

Repair the bent and broken things

If and when it can be done.

 

Put the values in their places

Make the numbers tell the truth

Make a right accounting

Of what was gained, and lost.

 

Cause the little things to grow

And keep the great from tyranny

Make a garden in the wilderness

And a city in the wastes.

 

Feed the humans in your care

Keep their bodies clean

Let them see the world and know

They are a part of it.

 

Cast the spells you have been given

The songs into the silences

The art onto the empty space

The names unto the nameless things.

 

And you can call it donkey-work,

The body moving through the day

But we do nothing on the earth

That is not grace, and magic.


Residents

I awaken in the night

Fifteen years and far away

With your face before me

And that song playing in my ears.

 

I see your face but I know that

You don’t look like that anymore

Or listen to that music

And I guess neither do I.

 

But I awaken in the night

And for just a few moments

All the distance goes away

And all that came between us.

 

The years of madness come and gone

The years of marriage and divorce

The years of confidence unshared

Ellipsed, eclipsed and gone away.

 

And for a moment you are

As close to me tonight

As when we lived all of our lives

In those same shared stories.

 

When we wandered the same halls

And found each other in the night

To share the possibilities

Of our brand new lives.

 

I awaken in the night

And think that I am there.

But they tore down the old residence

Two years ago.

 

But if the Finder of Lost Things

And if the Mender of the Torn

Is what we knew Him to be

In those lost days, than

 

I will awaken in the night

To make my way to a

Bright and common room

And find you gathered there again.


Palliative Care

Dying is a cold white room

Where we sit and wait,

Undisturbed by life,

While every voice falls silent

And every movement becomes still.

 

I leave the room because I can,

And the person lying there.

To walk down the fluorescent hall,

Open the door I am allowed

And find that it is June outside.

 

The evening there is soft and warm

The air pregnant with thunderstorms,

Alive with the voices of spring,

The peepers and red-winged blackbirds,

And the scent of the lilac trees.

 

I return to the cold white room

And find the room is empty now.

But if there’s one thing that I know

It’s that wherever you have gone

It’s on the June-side of the door.


First Day Of School

Four years is not a long long time

But it’s all the life you’ve had so far

And so far I have got to be there

For all the life you’ve lived.

 

Seeing each new thing you saw

With you as you saw it

Hearing each new sound you heard

With you as you heard it.

 

When you were born

I could hold you in one hand.

But you grew and grew until

No strength of mine could keep you here.

 

Now your long strong legs

Will carry you, out the door to where

Red lights flash on a yellow bus

And the glass door comes between us.

 

Now you’ll live, and I won’t see it

You’ll see and I won’t share

You’ll sing and I won’t hear it

But you were never just for me.

 

Four years is not a long long time

But I got to be there

For all the life you’ve had till now

And so I will be grateful.