Those heavy days, the Child cramped
within you and girding his limbs,
your lungs squeezed breathless-high,
the ordinary, unnerving simmer
of black waters within, Woman,
what did you think?
Or was thought
all prayer—trust in the buds
of epiphanies, the unquantifiable
blood to be let. But Mother,
those unspeakably swollen days,
olives combed out of ashen leaves,
or wine leeching out its vinegar smell,
did you feel the tug of split hearts,
in city streets, at tabernacles, in bars?
As your belly drew down, drawn
by hormones and truth, did you weigh,
too, the clumsy imploring down all
our bloodlines, for this saving parcel of flesh?
Not all gold in deep vaults is locked away.
Not all gold is sealed, seamed in stone, from day.
Not all gold is sluiced into crystal streams,
Deeply dug, fire tried, forged and formed for dreams
That circle fingers, slim and supple necks.
Not all gold forms crowns or pours gilded decks
Down rivers rowed by slaves in chains below
Not all gold, not all gold will you find so.
There is a gold so sweet and free you’d cry
To hold, though freely let it from you fly.
Beyond reach this gold, of hand but not eye,
Appears above you in the morning sky
And lights the edges of the tallest leaves
Dancing in very tops of all the trees.
Before the wind wakes and shakes down the dew
It shatters green, this gold, the last bit of night
And scatters little diamonds from the height
To the waiting eye and memory. You
Will find it so at dawn’s coming when with ease
In golden air, clear shifting, shaping, still
You spy shimmering in morning breeze,
The gold of God and his creating thrill.
Today we feel the wind beneath our wings
Today the hidden fountain flows and plays
Today the church draws breath at last and sings
As every flame becomes a Tongue of praise.
This is the feast of fire,air, and water
Poured out and breathed and kindled into earth.
The earth herself awakens to her maker
And is translated out of death to birth.
The right words come today in their right order
And every word spells freedom and release
Today the gospel crosses every border
All tongues are loosened by the Prince of Peace
Today the lost are found in His translation.
Whose mother-tongue is Love, in every nation.
Alone I weep, and lost, in hurt and pain.
My dreams seem shattered; mind’s lamp flickers low.
I blame myself, but how am I to blame?
No grand design to build, nowhere to go.
The world turns its uncaring eye away.
I live or die: ’twill not be written much;
And as the sleepless night brings troubled day,
I long for crumbs of comfort, human touch.
Yet soon is Easter, and my thoughts now turn
To One Who, palm-applauded, still rode on:
His face set flint, as all His love did burn:
A cross awaiting, for God’s only Son.
And as my tears descend, as winter rain,
I know Love lives, and I shall love again.
Lady, what songs are bending
The tall grasses of your mind,
What secret music whispers down your veins,
What wax-leaf ponderings, O Virgin Mary,
Waken our little shouts of expectation?
Our thoughts have lumbered down a treeless highway,
Have sputtered their heavy loftiness, have wept
Their protest. Now we hear the distant birdcall
Oh, dimly! but the woods have heard it well.
The stars are singing in their stupefaction,
The giddy little hills are clapping hands.
But Lady, what songs sway
The supple grasses of your thoughts,
What secret music whispers down your veins?
Glorious things are said about this city
Where the small citizen Christ moves in the lanes
Of so-brief arteried comfort; but what songs
Drift through this templed alabaster town?
We see the windows lighted, Virgin Mary,
City of God, by every hymn we raise
With chipped and broken voices, and our feeble
Vision guesses sacred silhouettes.
But when the little Seed fell in the furrow,
The warm and spotless furrow of your heart,
Tell us what pure songs stirred your delicate wonder,
What secret music whispered down your veins.