Woody’s Quiet

I noticed his quiet acceptance
When someone claimed there were hardly any trees planted
At the time he retired as manager

I noticed his quiet smile
When I was still in bed reading when he returned
From walking the grounds with Larry

I noticed his quiet reading
When I made myself breakfast and got ready
As he sat on the sofa with a western and a glass of milk

I noticed his quiet pleasure
When we walked the woodland paths
After we drove to the arboretum

And I heard his quiet spirit
Echoed In his beloved woods


Framed Sunflowers

Standing at the kitchen sink
My hands buried in warm, soapy water
I busily wash dirty dishes
While my gaze lingers on the sunflowers
Framed by the window
The sunflowers that are not in the garden
But there, just so, almost in the middle of the grass
Five sunflower plants
Grown tall
Their showy heavy flowers
Bending low now
Preparing to return to earth
As summer gives way to fall.

Five absurdly placed sunflowers
Not planted
But grown tall from seeds in dog droppings
Gifts from our dogs
And from my usually practical husband
Who carefully mows around them
Because they are framed perfectly
By the kitchen window
As I busily wash dishes
Buried in soapy water.

Something Not Memory

Something not memory
drives me from my book,
eyes wandering from the words on the page,
to stare across the years
at stacks of construction paper,
colored slivers on a shelf,
flimsier than my hands expected,
easily folded, easily torn, easily ruined,
but stacked on a shelf
so yummy, so soothing,
in clean layers of colors:
browns, greens, reds, blues
but the blacks and yellows always looked harsh,
suitable only for Halloween.

Something not memory
drove me to the keyboard,
away from electronic words
on an electronic page,
to type of construction paper,
thinner but better than lined writing paper,
easily disturbed, easily scattered,
but still safe, still scrumptious
in something quiet, more than memory.

Paraphrase of Ezekiel 12:1-12

The word of God came to me:
Daughter of woman, you worship and labor in the midst of a rebellious church;
they have eyes to see but do not see,
and ears to hear but do not hear,
for they are a rebellious church.
Now, daughter of woman, in the harsh glare of revelations, while they are looking on,
prepare your spirit as though you were one of the abused,
and again while they are looking on,
migrate from where you worship and labor under them to another place;
perhaps they will see that they are a rebellious church.
You shall bring out your spirit like one of the abused, in the harsh glare of revelations
while they are looking on;
in the quiet sanctuary, again while they are looking on,
you shall go out like one of those abused and driven into exile;
while they look on, dig a hole through their walled indifference and pass beyond it;
while they look on, shoulder the burden of the abused and set out in the darkness;
cover your face and weep, refuse their boundaries on your soul,
for I have made you a sign for the Catholic Church.
I did as I was told.
In the harsh glare of revelations I brought out my spirit
as though it were that of an abused one,
and in the quiet sanctuary I dug a hole through their walled indifference with my prayers and actions
and, while they looked on, I set out in the darkness as one abused,
shouldering their burden.
Then, in the morning, the word of the God came to me:
Daughter of woman, did not the Catholic Church, that rebellious house,
ask you what you were doing?
Tell them: Thus says God
This oracle concerns Rome
and the whole hierarchy within it.
I am a sign for you:
as I have done, so shall it be done to them;
as captives they shall go into exile.
The prince who is among them shall shoulder this burden
and set out in darkness,
going through a hole he has dug out in their walled indifference,
and covering his face in shame for all to see.

Paraphrase of Ezekiel 34:1-11

The word of the Lady Wisdom came to me:
Daughter of woman, prophesy against the shepherds of the new Israel,
in these words prophesy to them to the shepherds:
Thus says the Lady Wisdom: Woe to the shepherds of the new Israel
who have been pleasuring themselves!
Should not shepherds, rather, pasture sheep?
You have fed off their innocence, worn their youth,
and slaughtered their faith,
but the sheep you have not pastured.
You did not strengthen the weak nor heal the sick
nor bind up the injured.
You did not bring back the strayed nor seek the lost,
but you lorded it over them harshly and brutally.
So they were scattered for the lack of a shepherd,
and became food for all the wild beasts.
My sheep were scattered
and wandered over all the mountains and high hills;
my sheep were scattered over the whole earth,
with no one to look after them or to search for them.

Therefore, shepherds, hear the word of the Lady Wisdom:
As I live, says the Lady Wisdom,
because my sheep have been given over to pillage,
and because my sheep have become food for every wild beast,
for lack of a shepherd;
because my shepherds did not look after my sheep,
but pleasured themselves and did not pasture my sheep;
because of this, shepherds, hear the word of the Lady Wisdom:
Thus says the Lady Wisdom:
I swear I am coming against these shepherds.
I will claim my sheep from them
and put a stop to their shepherding my sheep
so that they may no longer pleasure themselves.
I will save my sheep,
that they may no longer be food for their mouths.

For thus says the Lady Wisdom:
I myself will look after and tend my sheep.

Paraphrase of Ezekiel 28:1-10

The word of the Lady Wisdom came to me:
Daughter of woman,
say to the prince of Rome:
Thus says the Lady Wisdom:

Because you are haughty of heart,
you say, “A god am I!
I occupy a godly throne
in the heart of the church!”—
And yet you are a man, and not a god,
however you may think yourself like a god.
Oh yes, you are craftier than Solomon,
there is no secret that is beyond you.
By your power and your influence
you have made riches for yourself;
You have put gold and silver
into your treasuries.
By your great craftiness applied to your trading
you have heaped up your riches;
your heart has grown haughty from your riches–
therefore thus says the Lady Wisdom:
Because you have thought yourself
to have the mind of a god,
Therefore I will bring against you
your victims, the most abused of your churches.
They shall draw their words
against your beauteous kingdom,
they shall run them through your splendid red apparel.
They shall thrust you down to the pit, there to die
a bloodied corpse, in the heart of the churches.
Will you then say, “I am a god!”
when you face your victims?
No, you are man, not a god,
handed over to those who will slay you.
You shall die the death of the unforgiven
at the hands of your abused,
for I have spoken, says the Lady Wisdom.

The Poetry of Evil

I have read and read and read
Posts and articles
Prayers and sermons
I have listened
I have thought
I have prayed – or tried to
I have raged
I have wept

I have watched through the night
Wakeful with unrest
Wakeful with anger
Wakeful with sorrow
Wakeful with a thousand memories
Wakeful with a million fears
Wakeful, perhaps, like a victim

And then I read more
Addicted to the words
Seeking refuge in thoughts

Overwhelmed, I read
Of victims and cover-ups
Of sadism and collusion
Sadly, I read of institutional complicity
And knew it to be true
Searching, I read of needed reform
And knew I agreed
Hopeful, I read Francis’ letter
And knew it to be inadequate

I read of everything
But evil
I thought of everything
But evil
Until I read
“The grace to be open to the gift of poetry”
And then I thought
Of evil
I thought
The anti-grace to be open to the seduction of evil
The poetry of evil

Are we distracted
By words
By reform
By the institutional faults
From the essential evil?

The garden is so overgrown
So in need of pruning
So in need of a new landscape vision
That we cannot see the serpent
Whispering in the gardeners’ ears
Seducing them with the forbidden fruit
Though the juices run red down their faces.