WHAT STILL LIVES

Pumpkin Fest
Photo by Pavel Chichikov

The farmers’ market, stands are few
Summer to an ending drew—
October sixteenth we are blessed
By what we call the Pumpkin Fest

Farmers’ products, schools and shows
Of enterprise the people chose,
Churches, businesses and arts
Display as warmer time departs

Services and charities
Food from small town entities,
Products of the country folk,
Clothing, textiles God bespoke

Somewhat scarcer may occur
Artisan alpaca fur—
Much provided for nearby
That spirit-blessing may not die

The sort of center there must be
For a live community
Not the single separate cells
In which apart the atom dwells

So remains a little while
Despite the Great Wall of Denial
The closure built for the control
Of what still lives, the human soul


 

LOOKS FOR US

Scarlet Oak

The winds are giving leaves a rest
As color turns from green to rust
Some yellow too upon a neighbor
Another tree that utters color

Yes, they speak another tongue
The autumn scatters these among
The many languages of leaf
That will go mute, the wind as thief

You might say that you ignore
The change but what is autumn for
Except to show the beauty of
The transposition of God’s love

It catches light as wind has caught
That looks for us as we have sought


 

I SAW TODAY

“Rain against the Window”: photo by Philip Jones
Courtesy Some PC Guy

I saw today a rainbow section
After hard October rain,
Now at night there is no question
Autumn rain comes down again

Shower, cover of the cloud
Higher up there will be light,
Dark the downpour speaks aloud
In words with nothing for the sight

Now we hear but do not see
Every word above the world,
Receding marches, mystery
Heaven’s banner is unfurled

I felt an urge to join, partake
In war, I did, and for God’s sake


 

WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

Into the Garden
Photo by Pavel Chichikov

Small garden in the middle of a waste
Of radiating darkness we name space
Fishpond on the surface we call sea
And dryness we call land of sand or tree

Simplifying surely yet how much
Of that created is beyond our touch
Available to senses and obtained
By those machines from which the flesh refrained

Now what could be the purpose of it all?
A little garden and a pond, a wall
Of emptiness surrounding what supports
Awareness, time, intelligence of sorts

Has it been forever or it starts
By some great strangeness far beyond our smarts?
Mysterious that it should be, exist—
The Mind that aimed to make it hasn’t missed

A small round planet as a sort of garden
And something, namely us, to ask the question:
Why and how and Who, what does it mean
That such exists, extraordinary scene?


 

GREAT GRANDPA

Back Then

Great grandpa in the field, horse-ploughing
Worked in his shirtsleeves, farmer’s habit
Then if he saw someone arriving
He first put on his formal jacket

Society long gone from where
It was that way more than a hundred
Years ago, we are not there
In time and space but live out-hollowed

So now we are the anxious shell
Of our long gone solidity,
And no one knows it quite so well
As those who have saved the memory

Where will we go to now that we
Have nowhere left to solid be?


 

WONDER OF HEAVEN

“Christ Appears to Mary Magdalene as a Gardener” (detail), ca. 1503–4
National Library of Wales
Courtesy Art and Theology

Why don’t you come to Me when you recall your troubles?
Don’t you remember that these are mere fragile bubbles
Which I pierce with the tip of the sword of My Sacrifice
Nothing more needed or used on the troublesome twice?

Look at the October leaves you see from your room
Scarlet some leaves on the tree, they fall this autumn—
So will your memories fall from the spirit’s tree
Only so long will I let these injuries be

Then from the bare branch in Spring will the foliage grow
Leaves are the memories that in your soul you know
Give shape to the tree of your spirit, roots in the ground
Of joy with its memories new and their color profound

So come to Me soul, I am both the gardener, garden
Season of Earth and perpetual wonder of Heaven


 

SETTLED IN OUR FAVOR

Elspeth C. Young (Contemporary), “Discipleship”
(Saint Tabitha Making Clothes for the Widows)

Her given name is Tabitha, which transposed means gazelle
Those who named her wished that she would grow up beautiful
She for whom the Christ compassioned and brought back to life
Good she to the needy poor and maybe someone’s wife

She packed our groceries today, plain-courteous and kind
As if on every spirit-gift her given name was signed
Surely when arrival comes He brings her back to be
Inhabitant of that bright place, His golden mystery

Everywhere it shines and speaks though now we may not hear
Speaks to us in words of peace and nothing there to fear
Unlike our fallen human world, where faith combats mistrust
Where every criminal within does battle with the just

But there the war is over and settled in our favor
Because of all our faith in Him, our generous Good Savior


 

HERE IS THE MYSTERY

Crab Apples
Courtesy Spicelines

Crab apples are showing, the first of October,
Little red spheres on a low-hanging tree
Instant conviction that summer is over
Same as the ageing of you and of me

Some of them fallen and split to the core
Some of them nibbled from center to skin,
What else is the growing of crab apples for?
Feeding the nibblers? Some lose and some win?

Perhaps all are winners, existence the prize,
Being, not being—alternatives two,
No matter the color, no matter the size
That they turn in October, the groupings are few

Here is the mystery, why should there be
Existence at all? take you and take me


 

NIGHT’S MIDNIGHT

Gerard David (c. 1450/60–1523), “The Virgin among the Virgins”
Musée des beaux-arts de Rouen
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

The angel plays the mandolin
The maidens listen to his song
Of beauty’s blossom without sin—
How gentle love is although strong

Then to worlds as well as them
He serenades, he plucks the strings,
Each leaf of melody a stem
A decorative tune he sings

How many worlds in which he lives
That scarcely fit the painting’s frame?
What consolation that he gives
An angel peace that has no name

A sonnet in a symphony
Night’s midnight in its majesty