Sunday, September 18, 2016


Though you are, it seems, hypothetical --
when I look at this picture
serene and intelligent
of Lucretia, in her bonnet,

I know there is some of that
spark of your justice
struggling to kindle my breast
into convicted action.

In these pallid days
of gray winter,
the voices of everyday duties
drown out
what you tell me
from the silence:
turn, and turn again.

Now I pause long enough
to listen again --
the galaxy spin
that binds me back
to the strands of my life --
and turn through regret
and hollow loss
of comfort and security
to the sharper pain
of your absence,

until I know in my body
that my face is turned away,
that I've forgotten true desire.

Until I know what I've squandered,
I can't move on
in this sunward spin
to hope again.

And until I feel the pain
of returning life that hope can bring,
how can I speak the name
of my true desire?

And only when I speak that name,
that wordless name, can I turn again
to your presence,
where you always are
and always were.


Around me, now I gaze
at the tokens of hope
I have scattered in this room:

The picture of a scrawny, deathless tree
at the edge of wild waters;

Stones, shells, the broken blue shards
of a bird's egg;

The picture of Lucretia,
gazing inward and past me,
embodying in face and acts
your presence of Justice

(The same gaze I see
on a much older portrait
of the woman at the well,
a quiet Christ speaking in her ear)

A stuffed spider reminds me of weaving,
and books all around murmer
of women on the quest
for that unknowable certainty,

The resting place, garden,
or uncomfortable wake-up call
we hypothesize as somehow --
beyond imagining or hope --
is certainly there.

So - help me into ths dance,
every minute
to know what regret or fear
has stopped me from turning,
from knowing true loss,
from the agony of wanting, hoping,
in this vacant land
of winter.

Because only then can I
open my eyes, my arms,
and reach for your uncomfortable balm
as you call me to be who I am --
more than I imagined, perhaps,
but less than I wish for
in my fantasy of perfection.

For perfection would stop the dance,
the turning from deception
to yearning, to glimpse
again and again
your feast of life
your laughing eyes, or

your steady gaze 
of tender wisdom, acceptance.

No compulsion in this spin
from false regrets to true desire,
and stumbling is permitted,
and what is lost, turned away from
was an illusion anyway --
cobbled together
from television ads or fears 
dressed up as authority.

And what I turn back to,
through the valley of confusion
through the storm of self-reproach,
is the anchorage of your unseen presence
unheard voice, transforming love.

(Images: Lucretia Mott, 1793-1880;
Jan Joest von Kalkar Christus und die Samariterin)

What this is about

In the mid 1990s, I started some poetic ruminations in the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden near my home, and have continued sporadically over time.  I write sometimes of my surroundings, sometimes from a dream, and sometimes addressing the Spirit behind the garden who is weaving the pattern of my life from each day's colored threads.  Recently, I (literally) dusted off the three little books I had kept, on and off, for a handful of years, and reread them.  I'm also writing new entries - so this will be a mix of old and new.  An experiment!