Sometimes God Hides

Sometimes
God hides
Especially in church

Behind doctrine
Behind liturgy
Behind men in fancy dress

Behind exclusions
Behind prejudices
Behind privileges unrecognized

That’s when I focus

On the hair of people
Seated around me

Hair
Of all colors
Thick and thin
Short and long
Combed and uncombed
Curly and straight

And on the shoes of people
Walking up to Communion

Shoes
Of all styles
Heels and flip-flops
Sneakers and Oxfords
Sandals and boots
Old and new

And on the voices of people
Lifted in song and prayer

Voices
Of all timbres
Soft and loud
Strong and quavering
American and foreign
Melodic and grating

And God finds me.

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Reality Recedes

We left our reality
one July Sunday
at dusk
in the van,
our new reality.

Behind the rear door,
our new kitchen
with ice chest, propane stove,
plastic drawers
for food, cooking utensils,
eating and cleaning necessities.

In the middle,
the spare tire, the toolkit,
a plastic container —
our new reality’s bathroom cabinet —
and above those, the clothes rack
with all of this reality’s hanging clothes.

Behind the front seats,
one suitcase each,
and in-between, a bag of snacks,
a small box of books and maps:
this reality’s storage room.

In this
our new reality,
the front seats are our living room,
with electronic cords, spare change,
a pocket knife and tissues
on the console between us
and the windshield, our picture window.

We ride through the space
of other people’s realities:
fields of wheat and corn,
ranges of cows and sheep,
oil wells and windmills,
great lakes and miles of marsh grass.

We ride through the time
of other ages’ realities:
ice age glaciers,
dinosaur bones,
river canyons,
sand blast hoodoos.

We ride through the earth
of other species’ realities:
lumbering bear,
floating otter,
mountain climbing sheep,
improbable puffins,
lonely bison.

We return, but not really.
Really, we realize,
our once comfortable reality
receded as we traveled.

Now, gods unto ourselves,
we unpack and begin
to recreate our own reality.

Do You Hear

The whistle of the wind through trees
like your father’s bedtime whisper
shshshshshshshshshshshshsh

The crackle of dry leaves under your feet
like your cracker crumbling in your fist
cripcrikcripcrikcripcrikcripcrik

The grumble of cars on the street
like the dog when you pull her ears
grgrgrgrggrgrgrgrgrgrgrgrgrgr

The plop of my shoes on the pavement
like the drop of your teddy on the floor
clobclobclobclobclobclobclobclob

The smack of the stone on the water
like the splash of your hand in the bath
plickplickplickplickplickplickplick

The tickle of the grass on your stomach
like the whisper of your granddad’s beard
jiskjiskjiskjiskjiskjiskjiskjisjiskjisk

The light of the sun in your eyes
like the bright of your mother’s love
yesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyes

The Days After

Today is September twelfth
so now we can forget
for the next 364 days

Apparently
we are content
to remember only yesterday

Read the names
Toll the bells
Dig the pictures out of the archives
Promise terrible revenge next time

Then midnight arrives
and we tun back
back into plump pumpkins
with no memory
growing complacent
in our garden of goodies

What if every day
we remembered

Remembered
the causes
Remembered
how easily we were led into two wars
Remembered
that no Iraqis, no Afghans hijacked those planes
Remembered
that there were no weapons of mass destruction
Remembered
the names, the stories, the loves
of the men and women who died
in those wars
Remembered
the names of the children
missing a parent
because of those wars
Remembered
the ones struggling
with their unwelcome mementos
of those wars

Remembered to pray
for peace
for wisdom
for remembering every day

You Don’t Have To Be

You don’t have to be young
to chew on a pencil, or a finger
to laugh at a dog, or squirm in your seat
to cry over what you can’t do, or over spilt milk
to stare transfixed at a blade of grass, or an ant
to wave goodbye, or blow a kiss

You don’t have to be young
but it helps

You don’t have to be old
to savor a new taste, or a new poem
to laugh at an old movie, or a politician
to cry over what can’t be fixed, or over injustices
to stare transfixed at a grandchild, or a liver spot
to say goodbye to another friend, or kiss a closed coffin

You don’t have to be old
but it can’t be helped

Song of Pacific Salmon

I come from lakes.
I come from rivers.
I come from oceans.

I come from egg.
I come from sperm.
I come from milt.

I come from a dying mother.
I come from a dying father.
I come from river gravel.

I come from alevin.
I come from fry.
I come from smolt.

I come from swimming.
I come from feeding.
I come from leaping.

I come from struggle.
I come from death.
I come from life.

Celestial Polygamy

Never has polygamy twinkled so sweet
as when solitary Moon weds sister Stars

The universe provides the marriage bed
infinity in hues of blackest silk

Earth attends as bridesmaid
arrayed in dusky patterned tartans

The groom, with yet roving eye,
pulls the seas greedily to himself

The shy brides keep their distance
though their happiness sparkles and shines

The reception is merry and long
husband and wives content together

Until that boisterous blustery big brother
shows up at the bedroom’s door sill
and outshines them all