Tag Archives: attempted poetry

I believe the Christ-child loves me, and I believe I shall be free!
I believe in silent splendor, I believe in living trees.
I believe in broken rocks, I believe in calming seas.
I believe in bread and water, I believe and live for Thee.

— poem by Lamentations, given to me on my birthday a few years ago.

Spring Comes

Spring comes.
High Summer.
The falling leaves, goldengrove.
Dead Winter.
A newborn’s cry.
Again.
Again.
The wheel turns.

The old man is planted in the earth, with the seeds-sowing
Winter comes
The small ones suckle
Men sweat
The women cry
Again.
Again.
The wheel turns.

Furrow-shoots drink rain—
a child’s laughter
is heard
over the edge of the world…

Little Way

Chest heavy

Breath light

Heart empty

(that could have been full—

of a man’s adoration,

children’s chatter,

an infant’s coo)

But is empty.

Chosen so.

 

(And empty, also, of bitterness).

Again, and again, emptied day after day

(She labors like Sisyphus)

And empties herself

    of anger

       and bitterness

              and self-desire

                         and despair

Save the desire of Love.

(which does not come)

 

Alone in the dark

(calling so many times)

she weeps and cries out

(though her ears strain in silence)

Yet burning still, as a steady candle in a stone-walled room.

Like a candle, burning itself down,

Giving up its being in a flame sent upwards

To fling back the darkness with steady light

 

She labors on,

Pouring herself out,  in measured days

Till at last she is spent.

Herself a libation,

 (poured out

     –consummation)

 

 

June, 1897, Therese was removed to the infirmary of the convent. On September 30, with the words, “My God . . . I love Thee!” on her lips she died. The day before, her sister Celine, knowing the end was at hand, had asked for some word of farewell, and Therese, serene in spite of pain, murmured, “I have said all . . . all is consummated . . . only love counts.”

 

 “I see that it is enough to realize one’s nothingness, and give oneself wholly, like a child, into the arms of the good God.” – Therese of Lisieux

Paenitudo Moribunda

The old woman opened her eyes, and closed them quickly again. It was a hot summer afternoon, the flies were buzzing in the rafters, the women working in the courtyard. Her heart beat unsteadily, she coughed and opened her eyes again. It was no dream, he stood there, by the foot of her bed.

“You’ve come.” she said.

“You sent for me.” His voice had not changed, it was the same, as it had been sixty years ago, that year of the long spring. Or his eyes, resting gently on her face. She closed her eyes again, and kept them closed.

“I did not think you would come. I was sure you were dead—or would have forgotten.”

“You sent for me.”

“Well…it was pointless. There is nothing to say,” she paused, and opened her eyes to glance about the room.” She went into another coughing fit.

He said nothing, but held her in his gaze.

Suddenly, she spoke: “No one forced me to, you know. Oh, my parents had their say, but in the end I chose it too….of course I had my tears–”

“–I know.” he whispered, interrupting.

“–but I willed myself to carry through, to not look back… And he didn’t force me either, I chose that too. He didn’t beat me then, you know.”

She glanced about, he stood there still, his eyes fixed upon her face. As he had, that distant long-past spring, when they’d freely spoken their young and earnest vows, by the grassy riverbank. She looked away, out the door, the afternoon sun upon the flagstones in the courtyard.

“Our daughter was born that winter (she had your eyes)…she was a scrawny thing (how she cried incessantly!)… It finally died…I let it be. I was the baker’s new wife you know, there was another brood I had to bear.”

She glanced at him, he had not gone, but stood there still, searching her face and silent. As he had at that court trial, when she’d sworn before the judges, perjuring to his ill.

“Augh! Will you cry here too? Don’t cry over me—I was no passive victim—“

He did not answer, but came up beside, stretched out his hand, and touched her head.

“And now you caress me with your tears! I tell you, I chose. Oh I suffered, but I chose. Stop crying for me. The girl you knew is gone, I chose another path….You know I received your letters? Yes, all seven of them, your messengers were not false. But I did not come. First there was my marriage feast (it was a village affair, everyone was there, his father spared no expense…), and later, I was with the baker’s child. And later…he was buried, but there were still many duties to perform. I had the business to manage, and then the estate too….my mother was right, you know. I had a well-off life.”

She could not look at him, but looked away. “And I paid for every wretched bit of it.” She laughed mirthlessly, it turned to a coughing fit. When the cough subsided, she wiped her brow. “And so I never came, to join you in your exile. I would have had to leave everything behind. And now it is over anyway. Well, go. There is nothing else to tell.”

He stooped, and gently kissed her head.

“But will you come with me now?” he said.

Her eyes met his.

And so he took her hand, and raised her from her bed.

(The old woman was buried, with a graven headstone close to the church as was proper. What the funeral lacked in tears, it made up in ceremony. Her grandson sold the business and became a banker, and the family is now one of the chief clans of the city-state.)

And so she went with him, back down the path, beyond to the riverbank, to his country, that ancient Spring which never fades.