Enlightenment?

Stillness brings enlightenment
To quiet monkey minds
And perfect death needs no breath

Sweet spring never stills
Sultry summer life entwines
Yet stillness brings enlightenment

Mortality haunts autumn chills
‘Til winter quiet enshrines
And perfect death needs no breath

Living love grows tendrils
Curling grasping binds
Yet stillness brings enlightenment

When any movement kills
We spit life’s bitter rinds
And perfect death needs no breath

Thrumming humming thrills
Dancing life bumps and grinds
Yet stillness brings enlightenment

And perfect death needs no breath

Dinnertime

She waits on the front porch
Small hands clenched on her lap
Short legs kicking over the edge
Silently reciting
Her magic charm
Pfadt, Pfahl, Pfeiffer, Pfoutz
Names from the phone book

His tall legs eat the sidewalk
Coming home from the bus stop
Whistling
Already feeling the beer foam
Tickling his tongue

He smiles when he sees her

Hands unclench
Mind recital stops
“Daddy”

She runs, trying to look like
Their favorite ballplayer
Rounding third
Heading for home

Laughing
He catches her up
In a one armed hug
She talks as they walk
Home

Her day, her plans, her baby sister
But not her magic names

In the kitchen
He puts down his lunch pail
Her mom turns around
Leans against the fridge
Spews the daily frustrations
The stubbornness, the sass

She sits at the table
Half listening
Pfadt, Pfahl, Pfeiffer, Pfoutz
Next to her high-chaired sister
Munching a carrot

He leans against the counter
Half listening
Wanting that beer
Until he turns
Unhurried
And backhands her across the face.

Daily Worship

We walk our garden
Most days

Monday the buds on the wisteria
Race the buds on the peonies
To bloom
And, look!, the first pea tendrils
Are almost grabbing the lowest wire

Tuesday three tall irises
Throw their newly purple beauty to the sky
Above thick rows of still sleepy daylilies
No flowers awakened yet by summer’s kiss

On Wednesday we walk
Under the Carolina jasmine
Covered arbor
Under the sweet yellow perfume
Of its small bugle flowers

And I turn back to the deck
To see if the wisteria has bloomed yet
Because sitting on the deck
Under blooming wisteria
Is perfume like no other

But still just those buds of promise

Thursday, a frog jumps into our small pond
The dwarf hemlock transplanted just weeks ago
Already has new light green at the tips
The weeping cherry weeps so gracefully
Over the pond
Its wounded side healing
Its deep cut wispy leaves
Still graceful green

By Friday the Lenten roses are faded
And so close to the ground
They seem ready for burial
Held in the pieta of their evergreen leaves
Not to rise again until next year

But the cold crops
Collards, cauliflower, broccoli
Spread their sturdy umbrella leaves
Ever larger
Imperially impervious to the cold nights
That explain the burlap
And upside down plastic pots
Next to the tender tomatoes
We dared to plant early

Saturday I gather herbs for supper
Spikey rosemary to rub between my hands
Before laying it on top the potatoes
Flat Italian parsley, low spreading thyme
Golden marjoram to flavor the omelet
Made with eggs from Shirley’s chickens

Sunday I pause inside to admire
The small pink azalea
Blooming in front of our low window
And almost hidden outside
By the orange tipped nandina

Mom is at mass upstairs
Upstairs on YouTube
As Woody and I join hands
To slowly pace the new miracles
In our garden
Thankful always
That even in our strangely slowed world
God still says Amen
So be it
To gardens
And we see that it is indeed still good.

Knife Heft

The knife is old
The blade rusts
If not dried just after washing
The wooden handle has a satisfying heft
(Lovely word, heft, has a heft itself)
The blade is long
About 6 inches
Thin and tapered
Woody has had it many years
Used it over fire pits
And over kitchen counters
Sliced fish for smoking
Venison for jerky
Suckling pig
And garden vegetables
He hones it often
Keeps it sharp
I like the heft of memories in my hand
As I wash and dry it.

Aftermath

After math came lunch
Recess then the rosary
Classrooms full of boomers
Before we knew we had boomed
Before we bloomed

Wooden desks in precise rows
Uniforms neatly identical
Two feet on the floor
Bodies and faces forward
Both hands on the desktop
With the rosary

One nun walked the halls
To ensure order
While the others ate

We stationed a lookout at the door

When the monitor was down the hall
We rosary raced
HailMaryfullofgracetheLordiswiththee

As the monitor drew near
The lookout returned to her seat
And we slowed to a drawl
Blessed…art…thou…among…women

There was no reason to do that
No reward
Only the possibility of punishment
If caught

No reason except we needed it
That small measure of control
That small rebellion
After math, after lunch, after recess

What Damn Dance Is This?

We waltzed through the first tune
Partnering as we chose
Swinging easily past the uncomfortable:
Abraham offering his wife to the king
All those slain in the name of the god
Who shall not be named
Those soft spots on babies’ heads
Crushed against the captors’ hard rock

For our second tune
We practice faithfully
Like contestants on a dance show
With four dance masters
One step two step, twist and twirl
Bend backwards, don’t lose the beat

Then the beat picks up
The steps are faster
More complex
As we partner with Paul
Practicing perfection

Now we know the steps
Now we feel the rhythm
Now we hear the music
Now we near the crown

Then those horsemen
Ride rudely in
Scattering dancers
Parting partners

Bringing blood and beasts
Plagues and pestilence
Until our silent screams
Drown out the music

Have you ever tried to conga
Keeping six feet apart?

Have you ever tried to sing
Through a mask?

Have you ever kept the rhythm
When the beat stopped?

Do you know the lyrics
Can you hum the tune
That lets you keep your faith
As you shuffle in place?

If Jesus is the Lord of this dance
What macabre melody is left
For our disco with Death?

Rain Dream

Dark rain penetrates my garden
Burrows deep to find waiting seeds
But no god thinks to beg my pardon
For carelessly creating weeds

I dream myself as hardened rain
Drenching deep to dampen roots
I dream myself free of this pain
Drinking earth’s sleeping fruits

I tumble wet from my birthing cloud
That smothering rejecting dome
I tumble down to rake and plough
Lightning shot from my heavenly home

I am liquid light in a black world
Laughing in my careless squalling
I am sweet rain, cloud hurled
Nothing need known but falling