The Work of Wings

[This poem is more or less a meditation on Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem, God’s Grandeur]

For Hopkins
The work of ah! bright wings
Is not to fly
Spread wide
Snowy white
Unmarked unmarred
Pristine pure
Holy wholly other
Above our too dirty world
Broken by our own bombs
With cratered hope
Rubbled dreams
Too ruined for rescue

Ah, no
Those bright wings
Wings of the Holy Ghost
Do not spread wide
To fly, untouched, away
But to wrap our brokenness
Close, so close
That our labored breath
As the psalmist’s weaned child
On the mother’s breast

Hidden within those ghostly
Bright wings
We yet continue to cry
Continue to try 
For peace
That peace 
We are told
That passes understanding

Perhaps -
I dare to hope
I try to breathe -
That peace beyond understanding
Is not beyond
Those ah! bright wings


At 73
I think I know, finally
how to embrace life:
aware of the wounded spots
that will cry out if I hug too tightly

Those wounds I inflicted
with the flicked whip
the pointed thorn
the hammered nail

Too often, I think,
I have nailed life to the cross
of my expectations
hoping to bleed satisfaction
from the wounded body
raised high on the cross
of my hopes
nailed hard to the cross
of my fears

I stood at the foot
of the cross of life
aghast at my own cruelty

Tenderly I lifted life from the cross
cradled life in my arms
buried life in the garden of my heart
enclosed by the stones of my sad knowing

And then, again and again,
I marveled as those stones
proved flimsy
no match for the power of life
new born but no infant
shining forth
freed from my tomb

Ah yes, again and again
have I marveled
at life

Until, again and again,
I put life on trial
and began to look again
for the whip, the thorn, 
the crucifying cross

or maybe choosing to ignore
Life’s resurrection power