Friday, May 17, 2013

Dark Bird

Loneliness is a curious bedfellow
crawling between blankets
when the night is pale
his cold edges
how I have shivered
at this touch.

But today I turned
to offer my hand
and asked what he had to teach me.
I let him carry me to my knees.

In the moonlight
he grew slim
and stood before me as a mirror
his void reflected back
this wide-eyed gaze
this warm skin
the film of breath upon the glass
alive with longing

Slowly he became a bird
of darkness
hovering above my hands
I kissed it softly
cradling it like a beloved child
my lips on cold feathers
gloriously alive

I have not yet been claimed by death.

It spread its wings before me
until they became a
dark doorway into the
house of joy.

Thursday, February 14, 2013


(Written on Ash Wednesday two years ago.  What began as a lament for a girl begging on the streets of Mumbai and became also a lament for the little girl within me.)

Little girl, who peers through smears of soot
which blur and run in the rain,
this lament is for you.
Life once fluttered around your shoulders
shimmered as it nested in your hair
chirping and humming as the air filled with light.
It lies broken now beneath the earth.

I too, have been marked with ashes
the dust of ancient hosannas
and so we meet death in each other's eyes.
Beneath the shroud of water and cloud
the throaty wail begins.
This lament is for you.

For you behind the windowpane
with prickling skin and ragged palms
as raindrops melt the waxen glass
you who have no name.

Behind this jail of ashen skin
we strain to hear the rooftops wail
in the dusky moments before breath
we wait for the creak of footsteps on the stair
for the rustle and murmur from corners of the room
for the ancient words that light the air
Talitha Koum! Little girl, get up!
You no longer dwell in the cold, dark places
the death-fumed spaces
You are named in to life!
Exhale the stale air of the tomb,
you are fresh and new! Get up!”

But today the stench of decay
hangs in the folds of cloth
as my palm meets yours across the glass
we are blue-lipped with death
we have not yet learned to breathe

Let the Naming begin.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Walking the Dog in the Moonlight

His breath exhales like a steam engine
into the clear darkness
chugging along this gravel track
intent on a scent imprinted on the road
fully given over to the mystery
of those who came before.

The stars gleam haughtily from their perch
like birds of prey
coolly observing our shadows
cast by the sickled moon.

My nose turns up, straining
to catch the scent of things to come.

We pause where the road bends beneath
the ash tree
its silhouette a paper cutout
against the moonlit barn.

And I wonder about Abraham
twenty years after that night, 
clinging to a promise
grown paper-thin with time
crying at the stars
“How long, O Lord?”

Until, perhaps, he did not cry out at all
but only stood bent and still
listening to the deep hum of nothing,
breath swirling away from the
goat-skinned flaps of his tent.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Morning Walk

I stumbled today
in my own footprints
embedded in the morning path
I have daily walked
with half-closed eyes
the world a peripheral blur

and with my hands in the earth
a spider's lacy web
drew my eyes up to the trees
she crocheted herself, speckled
across the trail
alluring me through her doorway of mindfulness,
of beauty transient

on my knees
the soft, white underbelly
of a thousand leaves
invited me to honor each luminous vein
and through the green-gray trunks
a fawn stilt-walked
among the milkweed

the thick sheet of haze
and the blue hills rolled on
and on

Oh, daily, Lord
turn these downcast eyes to You
and all your faces.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Poem of the...fortnight?

If there is anything redemptive about August in Virginia, it's the abundance of things fresh and crips from the vine/bush/tree.  Today at lunch I ate entirely too many cherries and remembered this poem, written last summer during cherry season.  Thought I would share one of the things that helps me survive the southern summer!

The Orchard

Leaves of light flank the painted mountains
like ladder rungs under the press of sky
in the weight of morning we walk the dusty road.

The world is cool beneath the branches of the cherry tree
limbs trembling with vermillion orbs
that glow like bulbs and lay hot in the palm
the electric sun longs to bake the flesh into
crisp pies and sticky jams

The earth is good. It slakes our thirst
with taut fruits and foamy soil
we are our true selves as sweetness
runs down our chins and stains our fingernails

The flies buzz their hallelujahs
around our ears
and old women in scarves
hold fistfulls of cherries and chuckle
in a language we do not know.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Poem of the Day


I saw once in Jaipur an upper room
filled with rows of boys
embroidering saris
stretched taut on open frames
their eyes squinting close as the golden thread
vanished and appeared in the silk.

In the room below, a wiry man
flung water from buckets over
freshly-woven carpet.
Whiskered, shirtless,
he brushed the water with
a bundle of reeds
to open the fibers.
Vibrant blues and crimsons
bloomed through the soap suds
with each swishing stroke.

The factory owner surveyed his kingdom
with knees spread wide
lauding the workmanship
driving a bargain
dressing the floors of my home.
His belly ballooned over its
gleaming belt buckle
oiled shoes two-stepping
back from the sludge.

The man with the reeds
bent sharply at the waist
peering closely at the golden weave
refusing to lift his eyes.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Poem of the Day

In honor of my favorite time of day...


is falling
off the bright
ledge of the world
into the arms
of God.