March 2010

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The pilgrim

I see my father walking
in dusty boots from the mill
through piles of golden lumber
row on row in the butter light
of evening below the church,
and the air is cool and
tinged with words that flow
as fish in summer currents
and seep to the dark embrace
of the earth beneath his feet.
Love is patient love is kind
unto the hills amazing grace
for now and ever more amen.
I breathe the scent
of strawberries in a field
and salt on red rut roads
and hear hymns that flit
on swallow wings
to waiting nests against
the weathered barn.
This is where I learned
that truth is fluid and
sings along the hydro wires
from pole to silent pole
and winters with the geese
and lovely butterflies
and never wears a ring
or agrees to glint on
anything but bottles cast
by pilgrims into ditches
on their way to Santiago.
And my father was a pilgrim
in this village where he
wandered through his days
and he never knew a morning
that was old or came to
evening with an empty bowl.

© 2010

Our lady of sorrows

There is a hole in the day
where she used to be,
an absence in the light
that falls to the fields
and floats to the darkened
spruces along the fence line.
I hear the wheels
as I would not hear them
if she were there
- even in the dusk
of her final days.
The turns curve upward
over the hills and downward
through the underpass.
Shadows splay on
the dead spring snow
as fragments fumble
up from memory and
drag like a net behind.
Wherever I look
I see the dam
so hideously beautiful
in the long early rays
of that immaculate day
pressing through the treetops
and over the luminous ice,
and she was there
already gone to the blackness
and I did not see and
turned toward the bridge
and these are the shards
of a glitter that was
and this is the journey
of melancholy
rising from the void.

© 2010


A sunset purifies
     all it touches,
cities crumbling
into ancient hillsides,
quarries gouged
from the eyes of earth,
old freighters
out on the great lakes,
tenements that stink
in the noon-day sun,
big highways, bad bridges,
graveyards that ache
with the bones of
too many soldiers,
   and every prayer
   thrown after it
like petals to the sea.

© 2010