FLANKS OF SILK

Fawn Sheltering by Tombstone
Courtesy Fox News

A waiting fawn pressed up to fold
Against a tombstone for its doe—
In summer heat the stone was cold
And leaves do not on tombstones grow

But it was doubled tight and close
Rods of legs against its flanks
Lids were closed against the light
Without a God to give its thanks

Meanwhile the doe was off somewhere
To graze on grass providing milk
As far from fawn as she would dare
Perhaps recalling flanks of silk

Eyes like glistening brown stones
A cage of ribs, the fragile bones


 

HOW MANY IN THE CREW?

“…South to the blind Horn’s hate…”

He sailed around Cape Horn
Four-masted sailing ship
Most of you were born
Afterward, the trip

Docked before you started
Hamburg and return
I don’t know when departed
How many marks he earned

But think of sound and silence
The sea’s immensity
The wind’s tremendous violence
How powerful and free

No engine in the hold
The stories that they told
How many in the crew?
To sail it not a few


 

NO HANDLE

John Hare (contemporary), “Sweeping the Spotlight”
Courtesy John Hare

Emmett Kelly took a broom
And swept the sunlight you’d assume
But brooms are made with sweeps of straw
And sweeping light’s against the law

The law of nature not of men
Try you might once more again
Still it won’t come off the floor
Not by now and not before

Nor will the sun be grasped by hand
It has no handle made for man
Try to bunch it to a ball
Bounce the sun to fly and fall

The Lord of light we cannot see
Within the sun of charity
Unapproachable within
Especially to those who sin

But visible to those who make
People laugh for laughter’s sake
By trying to sweep up the sun
Without designs on anyone


 

MY LIFE HAS SOMETIMES BEEN AT RISK

In Moscow

Can you judge the length of road
That turns and then goes on again
How long it runs until the end?

It may be just around this turn
Or onward, upward toward the top
Of many hills until the stop

This is our life of which I speak
A journey long or short for each
But one designed to show and teach

That God is love in truth and deed
Although so arduous a path
On either side the shades of wrath

Just today she said to me
So tired am I of this life
My loved companion and my wife

The wearing down of we ourselves
Not of you, she said, but things
That years and days of living brings

My life has sometimes been at risk
Once I called her from a city
Where violence may not take pity

I said: If I do not get off
The plane on Monday, think it so
That something dealt a mortal blow

It might have been but it was not
Because to write this I survived
And to this time remain alive

For purposes I do not know
Not my will but yet the will
Of God that I remain here still

This I write and this you read
To follow where your road may lead


 

THE ONES WHO WILL BE NAMED

Wind Turbines on the Mountain, Pennsylvania
Photo by Pavel Chichikov

Bracing breezes from the foothills
Of the Allegheny Mountains
Walk a street uphill and feel them
Streams of currents on their errands

Read the summer leaves that quiver
In the levels of the green trees
Or the rivers of forever
Flowing overhead of these

All is changing in its travel
Though exclude the human level
There perennial deceit
And the ways of villains meet

So the virus will be blamed
Pick the ones who will be named


 

THE WISE AMONG US

Money as Fuel, Germany,1923
© Encyclopaedia Britannica

Suppose it all breaks down, what then?
Maybe never, if so when?
Months perhaps, or even weeks
Maybe currency that leaks
Value by the day or hour—
Inflation numbers that devour

Political results take place
Instabilities erase
So that an anarchy prevails
Security of living fails
Nothing rhymes and all conflicts
Undependable, with tricks

Until the nations lose control
Of everything the stealthy stole
The military comes in play
In hours all is swept away—
Can this happen? Sooner than
The wise among us understand


 

TIME IS OVER

Kathleen Patrick, “A Matter of Time”
Courtesy Fine Art America

“We’re running out of time,” he said
He opened up his watch and took
A pile of hours, added seconds
Mixed them all together, shook

And there were days and even weeks
Merged together in a pile
“Find the length of time you seek
I will be gone a little while

“To find more time to add to those
Until we have enough to spend
On anything you should propose
Since time you need should never end

“Prevent them though from running over
A second spilled and time is over”


 

THE SHOWING

Evelyn Pickering De Morgan (1855–1919), “Earthbound”
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

If it were said to me this moment
“Be prepared to die this instant”
Would I receive the words with praise,
Or ask for years or even days?

Listen then for you must wait
In strong endurance for that fate
Since it will surely come at once
Although expected in advance

We know some death of ours descends
But put off thinking of our ends
Till now one breath is breath the last
Of what we do and no more past

And then no more? Perhaps much more
The showing we are waiting for


 

A GREAT REJOICING

Domênikos Theotokópoulos (El Greco), (1541–1614), “The Holy Trinity”
Museo del Prado, Madrid
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

God gave up His Son to free a slave
One not generous nor even brave
Who first denied acquaintanceship in fear
Then acknowledged Christ though death was near

How generous the Lord of close and far
Despite the lowly creatures that we are
It is a plan of which we nothing know
Until perhaps by death we later grow

We too must sacrifice and not know why
Except that to exist we first must die—
Contradiction dark and fearsome too
Yet brighter than the daylight sun we knew

A sacrifice and yet by it receive
Some great rejoicing though the mourners grieve