Adaptation of Jeremiah 31:7-9

Thus says Lady Wisdom:
Shout with joy for Sarah and Hagar,
For Keturah
For Leah, Rachel
For women valued and devalued,
For women cherished and abandoned
Exult with the women of the nations;
Proclaim your praise, your hope and say:
Lady Wisdom will deliver her daughters,
The remnant of Israel.
Behold, I will bring them back
From the land of the desert and the cold,
I will gather them from the ends of the world,
With the blind and the lame in their midst,
The mothers and those with child,
The young women and the old,
Women by birth and women by choice –
They shall return as an immense throng.
They departed in tears,
But I will console them and guide them;
I will lead them to brooks of water,
On a level road, so that none shall stumble.
For I am a mother to Eve,
Keturah the forgotten is my first-born.


They seem so close
Easy to grab
I reach down
Wrist, elbow slipping
Into the cool water
Almost to my shoulder
I reach deep
For the golden fish
Quicksilver cold
Mercurial fragments
Of my mind pool
The small fall
Of my tears
Ripples the surface
But those slivers
Those erratic beautiful golden
Stay in the quiet depths
Just out of reach


Once I bent double
Not with age
My nose snuggled into
My shins
My hands waved to my toes
As they slipped past
To pat the floor
When I ached
It was because I
Had pretzeled myself
Again and again
Or rode my bike through mountains
Or danced until I was breathless
This same me
But not
How often do our cells turn over?
I feel bound now
Trussed by age
The grab in my left hip
The catch in my groin
The cramp in my leg
The tiredness in my mind
Remind me
Of what I would rather forget

At Sunday Mass

Through the high long narrow
I can see trees
Not the ground
Not the sky
Just branches and leaves
Through the windows

As the Mass moves
In stately predicable rhythm
Call and response
Hymns and prayers
Familiar patterns

The priest
A man, always a man
In this big C Catholic
Leads us, of course
Being the designated hitter
Like major league baseball
Still exclusive of women
Unlike baseball, though, his team is women
Ushers, servers, communicants
Mostly women
Serving before the altar
Of priestly man-ness

I want to stop with God
With those trees
The green leaves
The softening sunshine
I want my mind to rest
In the Divine
I want a luxurious pause
A time out
I want to be put in a corner
With God

But the man keeps
In his fancy lace-trimmed
With his memorized ritual
His prominence
His permanence
His his-ness

I want the God, the Goddess of trees
But here I am
Standing, sitting, singing, saying
“Something, something be with you”
He says
Every Sunday I hear it
Every Sunday I mumble
With the others, stretching out my hands
Palms up
“And also with your spirit”
We say
Every Sunday
You’d think I’d remember the words

Ah, but I am never really here, am I?
Sometimes when I am lucky
I am quietly with the trees
But mostly
Mostly, I am simply raging
Raging at the ungodliness of it all

And I am more with the Grateful Dead
Than with the trees
Or the ordained priest
Or his eternal God
“If I had my way, if I had my way
I would tear this whole building down.”

Bluegrass Friday

A small highway
Just two lanes
Avoiding the urban
Traveling quietly
Past farms and fences
Between the city

The corn maze
Largest east of the Mississippi
Second largest in the nation

Past a small market on the highway
That is only a highway officially
But feels like a country road

We stop at the market

Selling food and drink
Beautiful crafts and
Tacky souvenirs
Sandwiches, soda
Beer and wine and
“Market-ritas ”

We take our drinks
Out the side door

On the expanse of lawn
Dotted with those old wrought iron
Tables and chairs
Surrounded by white Christmas lights
Strung high
Backed by trees of heaven
Trash trees, Woody calls them
An invasive nuisance
But with pretty leaves

Off to one side
A corn hole game and a truck tire
The tire decorated for Halloween
Pumpkins and a sheet ghost
And a store bought skeleton

Under a cloud speckled sky
The musicians slowly gather
At the biggest table

As we drink our market-ritas
And eat our sandwiches
Back a-ways
At a smaller table

Two young girls,
Then a couple of middle aged men
Pot bellied and patriarchal

One of the young women takes up a guitar
And sings
Getting but not needing
Not asking for
The older men’s approval
“She can sure belt out a song…
Don’t need no microphone, her”
“And she plays a mean guitar”

A young man named Jacob
Arrives, tunes up and
Softly sings a ballad
Accompanying himself on his guitar

Guitars, fiddles, harmonicas
A mandolin
And a big ole bass
Picking up the
Rhythms and keys
Of each tune

An older woman arrives
Pulls up a chair,
Puts her guitar at her feet
She pats it, with no particular rhythm
For a few songs
Then she lights a cigarette
Picks up the guitar
And starts playing and singing
Cigarette dangling from the side of her mouth

A young woman tunes up her fiddle
Sings Wayfaring Stranger
In a clear echoey soprano

The group that is less than a group
Much less than a band
Shifts: expanding, shrinking
Playing for themselves
But aware of those of us
Sitting on the edge
Back a-ways
Maybe wishing we could
But not really understanding
That musical dialect
They speak so well

“Jacob, when are you going to give us another song?
Don’t wait to be asked, boy
Just start playing”

The group keeps going
The songs keep coming
The traffic keeps rolling

A bluegrass Friday evening
With Woody

Life fits easy
Like a comfortable shoe
Or a familiar tune