LOVE REMAINS UNCONQUERED

Celestin Medović (1857–1920), “The Sacrifice of Isaac”
Moderna galerija, Zagreb
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

LOVE REMAINS UNCONQUERED

As Abraham had nearly cut poor Isaac’s throat
God the Father would have slain the human race,
But Love Himself was born, unconquered love
In such an unexpected simple place

Greed is never satisfied until it dies
Pride becomes a master and remains alone,
Defeated always by its own sterility
Desolate as deserts, rich in stone

But love remains unconquered, seeming small and weak
And even pride admits that it is love it seeks


 

LIGHT OF PARADISE

Icon of the Theotokos and Christ
Courtesy Pinterest

I saw a little church
Standing on a hill
All around it clear
All around it still

Candles at the altar
Candles at the back
Light the holy pictures
Blessing to attract

Candles ever burning
Holy is the room
Candles never waver
Nothing is consumed

Candles ever burning
Wax becoming flame
Candles never ceasing
Praise the Holy Name

Candles are the faithful
Light of Paradise
Mary was a candle
Burning with the Christ

(August 15 is the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.)


 

THE PALACE IS ON FIRE

Building Afire
Courtesy Fire Risk Heritage

The palace is on fire
Many separate wings and buildings
From medieval on to modern
Symbols on ornate facades
As if embroidery in stone

Smoke is spreading through the air
Treasures are in danger there
Steward, do I have permission?
There is no time now for discussion
The irreplaceable will be destroyed

He says go on, I pass within
Crowds of people stand confused
Lethargic in the courtyards—
Where is the building that I look for?
Precious is the work and rare

The palace is on fire
But no one knows the reason why
Nor finds the source of drifting smoke
Or knows why nothing can be done
And memory must die


 

THE STREAMING SHORES

Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) Photo by Dawn Huczek
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

First the rain came down
A hard summer rain that covered the streets with rivers
And then a dove walked over our roof
On the shingles of the room in back
Dove-tail, tan with round black speckles

Does the dove mean peace?
Will the oceans recede from the mountain tops?
The dove has round dark eyes, a soul of peace
But she has no twig in her timid beak
So the symbol is incomplete, but still

The storm has passed, will pass, is passing
No symbols be if God is silent
The world His speech and the doves are the words
That fly to and fro between here and there
The rigging, the rail and the streaming shores

This ungrateful generation
Has already drowned except for some
And a new race rises from the ocean
Half swimming fish, half leaping lamb, wool and fin
Part sea, part heaven


 

LOVE CHILD

In a polished pew at Mass
A girl of eight or nine years old
Between a foster father, mother
Leans and hugs first one and then the other
Over and over and over
A limitless and hollow hunger
Hugs and leans and kisses
Unfillable, insatiable
And yet something impalpable
Which cannot be supplied
Hugs arms, hugs neck, hugs side
Like a metronome to each
Oscillating like a lever
Remaining within reach
She draws their body warmth within
She cannot lose connection through the skin
While on the altar
God’s blood and flesh on offer
Unseen, unfelt, ignored
Caught from the bleeding wounds and poured
For her


 

IT DOES NOT WORRY

Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus}
Courtesy Welcome Wildlife

A rabbit crops grass in the old cemetery
The red sun falling through a gap in the front
Of the Alleghenies shines through translucent ears
Lutherans lain under since eighteen oh three

It chews so devotedly as had before
Generations of cottontails beneath Brush Mountain
The limestone headstones fretted away
By two hundred years of winds through the gap

Why does it take so long for the sun
To pass through the notch in the gray-masked hill
Small red dot of the summer sunset
In the haze of an early August sky

It does not worry, it should not, could not
The sweet grass green, the dusk full blown


 

NOT EVEN HOLDING HANDS

Jure Zrimšek (contemporary), “Blind Men in Pursuit of Color”
Courtesy Saatchi Art

He was a Russian military pilot
Invalided out with diabetes
Rare, it causes him to lose his eyesight
Effective treatment not available
For ordinary people in Rostov
Continues drinking alcohol and smoking
His vision growing darker every day

Who will save him if he cannot save
Himself or find physicians who can help?
He stands up like a monument and symbol
For humans great and small, astute and dull
Male and female, young and full of age
Growing blind and nearing the abyss
Not even holding hands but moving forward


 

THIS MUST BE A FABLE

American Goldfinches (Spinus tristis) on Sunflower
Courtesy GrowJoy

How I delight in watching
Sparrows on a wire
Pivot back and forth
Neither low nor higher

But when two finches pose
On a drooping flower
One above the other
Demonstrates its power

A goldfinch as superior
Leans down for a seed
A goldfinch as inferior
Hangs below to feed

This must be a fable
Of humans at a table
Birds are only creatures
And have no moral teachers