Flickering Mind

Lord, not you,
it is I who am absent...

I stop
to think about you, and my mind
at once
like a minnow darts away,
into the shadows, into gleams that fret
unceasing over
the river's purling and passing.

Not for one second
will my self hold still, but wanders
everywhere it can turn. Not you,
it is I who am absent.

You are the stream, the fish, the light,
the pulsing shadow,
you the unchanging presence, in whom all
moves and changes.

The Crack

While snow fell carelessly
floating indifferent in eddies of
rooftop air, circling the black

a spring night entered
my mind through the tight-closed window,

a loose Russian shirt of
light silk.
For this, then,
that slanting
line was left, that crack, the pane
never replaced.

Making Peace

A voice from the dark called out,
'The poets must give us
imagination of peace, to oust the intense, familiar
imagination of disaster. Peace, not only
the absence of war.'
But peace, like a poem,
is not there ahead of itself,
can't be imagined before it is made,
can't be known except
in the words of its making,
grammar of justice,
syntax of mutual aid.
A feeling towards it,
dimly sensing a rhythm, is all we have
until we begin to utter its metaphors,
learning them as we speak.
A line of peace might appear
if we restructured the sentence our lives are making,
revoked its reaffirmation of profit and power,
questioned our needs, allowed
long pauses. . .
A cadence of peace might balance its weight
on that different fulcrum; peace, a presence,
an energy field more intense than war,
might pulse then,
stanza by stanza into the world,
each act of living

The Avowal

As swimmers dare
to lie face to the sky
and water bears them,
as hawks rest upon air
and air sustains them,
so would I learn to attain
free fall, and float
into Creator Spirit’s deep embrace,
knowing no effort earns
that all-surrounding grace.

How could we tire of hope?

We have only begun
to imagine the fullness of life.
How could we tire of hope?
So much is in the bud.

The face of this singing nun would forever be unknown to us

They sang a capella: one voice began to mount like a skylark and detach itself from the rest, from those mingled voices which together sounded well, but from whose conjunction with this single one soared in an intensity of beauty — a voice so clear and just, yet vibrant with such warm sweetness, I have remembered it always. The fact that this great, this glorious and rare voice was singing behind bars, that the face and identity of this singing nun would forever be unknown to us, shadowed the music. Mainly, we were awed to think this treasure was so hidden.

God is absorbed in work

God is absorbed in work, and hears
the spacious hum of bees, not the din,
and hears far-off
our screams. Perhaps
God listens for prayers in that wild solitude.
And hurries on with weaving:
till it's done, the garment woven,
our voices, clear under the familiar
blocked-out clamor of the task,
can't stop their
terrible beseeching. God
imagines it sifting through, at last, to music
in the astounded quietness, the loom idle,
the weaver at rest.

Practicing the Presence of God

Everything faded -- beside
The light which bathed and warmed, the Presence
Your being had opened to. Where it shone,
Their life was, and abundantly; it touched
Your dullest task and the tasks were easy.
Joyful, absorbed,
You "'practiced the presence of God" as a Musician
Practices hour after hour his art:
"A stone before the carver,"
You "entered into yourself."