So that’s that:
another matter-of-fact year
with another matter-of-fact re-conquering
of death and all death’s forces done
while we – and you, I guess – slept.
But they tell me you were lightning
coursing through the earth’s crusted veins,
quickening plasma crashing in
with all the thunder
of a fluttering gasp and a heartbeat back
into the quiet dark. Which makes me
wonder, How long did you lie there,
loving the stale air and calm
before rolling off onto the
ground and into glory?
Do you miss them,
those few minutes when
no one knew you were alive and
you could finally rest with your miracles
of breath, stone, and solitude?
And is this to be my sanctification,
darkening blood and a stone-turning chest?
Well – sit with me then, in silence,
and think of those first moments.
I will learn to find life in this,
and you will find a home
in my slow-warming grave.
The darkest day on earth was stone-dry and sunny,
light breeze, vain clouds behind their blue-veil screens and
not sure what to wear to the funeral.
Anything would do, I muttered
while squinting and wandering
past tile, concrete, fake lawns and
ugly fountains perfectly constructed as
ugly toads, spitting.
And the old stone church spit lies
out the back door,
some rogue organist playing God
by playing Christ
the Lord Is Risen Today
and I had to bite back a surging
Allelujah! and lenten blushing
amidst brashly assenting birdsong.
Jesus felt more dead
when I lived in Chicago,
where numbness crept early over me
along with the wet dark
and my shivering might have been theirs
as they stared at brick walls, waiting
for the rising star or falling crescent to
press through and tell the truth.
But here I am watching drought
transform dust only to dust –
nothing new under the mundane sun.
The miracle would be in the mud,
in the witness of darkness
salving our blighted eyes that believe
in life before resurrection
and vision before first light.
So, a goal of my Lent this year was to reflect upon the coming Easter weekend through the lens of the various realities that Lent so inevitably confronts me with – human mortality, desolation, need, and disorientation – and then to (probably unadvisedly) respond with three poems, one for each day (Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter Sunday), addressing how these days, too, can be sources of pain and confusion in their own ways. (Especially since they came up too fast to really finish the poems!)
All that obnoxious introduction to say: they’re messy and maybe a little bit blasphemous, but perhaps only in the way Psalm 39 or Christ’s cry of abandonment on the cross might have been. Feel free to ask questions.
I swing passion like hammer blows
to pin you up, keep you
from peeling off
blood-keeping beams –
I need time to see meaning in this,
more time to find mystery or some
shook-foil reflection flipped in your
concave chest as it dilates
wild eyes sliding down you like sweat
that makes the coverslip stick.
And yet for all the burnt-black prayers your
flat stare sees crust over white-knuckled believing
every fucked up year
isn’t it us you leave hanging
because one-thousand nine-hundred and eighty five
days of you dying have not been enough to
explain this earth
you so love