First hour of Good Friday
Stained glass star, muted by night.
The magic has been done and waits
In a simple ceramic container,
In a tall cloaked pitcher alongside
A white, unevenly melting candle as
Wide as my palm in the dark church.
The structure is still settling, plank
By plank, in every pew or overhanging
Arch, like we’re inside the ribs of a beast
Deep underwater. Under pressure that
Would kill us if we faced it alone.
Only us and the waiting god
Who’s asked us to stay awake. To sit awake
While time wears the faces off all witness.
Dimmed lights crouch into the ceiling,
Emitting the hum of unreachable space.
A walk through the grocery store
A man, empty-handed, carries a great hole
Into the grocery store. He pushes a cart
Into which he drops vital things: bread,
Oil, wine, coffee. Brownie mix for the kids.
Nothing goes in the hole
Which he sometimes carries inside
His body, sometimes twirls absently
Like a ring too loose to safely wear
That nevertheless will not fall off his finger.
Nothing comes out of the hole though
Sometimes he thinks that’s because
Everything has already gone out of it,
It needed to be that way to be a hole
And so empty it can’t contain even darkness,
Or a single name, or the weight
Of a hand on his back, the sound
Of water being turned off, the wing
Beats of an unseen bird, the as yet
Unknown cost of everything in the cart
Conversations (XX) — to the emptiness
You remember the space between branches.
You remember being the last leaf.
You remember them slipping away in the wind
but the wand of the universe held you twisting.
You remember accepting the wind’s tongue
Making its voice the only voice others heard
And thought was yours.
And the wind’s tongue turned you over until
You were facing a different space between
Branches and saw twisting there one other
Leaf who had heard on stillest nights in early
Winter your true voice all along
Another Reason Why I Wish the House Next Door Had Not Sold, Though It Is Still Abandoned
Out my second story window I would see great branches
flowing from an unseen maple’s trunk, striding on the air
to the roof of the house next door.
A month ago two men climbed the tree
to the roof. I watched them slowly saw, saw away
anything they could reach. The new view’s an old metal roof
snow sliding down its creases, winter’s white sky
and a single wren on the tip of tender branch up
where saws could not reach. I used to see squirrels,
a dozen in an hour, traveling branches like highways;
now while I don’t see anything I still hear them
in the gutter over my own window. But I keep looking
where they used to be: the deepest view an empty one
Under the New Moon There Is A Quiet Layer of Cloud And Beneath That The Coldest Day of the Winter Turns To The Coldest Night
Any enclosed space is a temple. While we turned away
the sky came down and delivered news of the moon,
it hangs there just above the trees, a white ceiling
glowing from the light of streetlamps below, it waits
folded like a newspaper delivered but not yet read,
thicker and more important seeming than it will be
when it’s picked through and thinned out
and in some cases like my dad used to do tied in knots
and thrown in the fireplace with kindling where
burning it rises through the cloud’s cold floor
and brings news of the hidden world to the new
moon in its temple of absence
Midwinter Dream Fragments
A silent movie walks into a bar.
Far off to the east fragments of cloud
hover in the foreground, closing credits. The clear blue sky
revolves behind them like a child’s picture lamp
before it catches on fire. But the sky does not move.
Only the clouds are moving, their vacancy signs
flashing as they pass the moon.
Morning, After the Ice Storm
The bluejay’s query from the previous twilight
hangs in the mostly empty air between branches.
On a brown maple leaf last night’s tear
has still not fallen. Though in a few hours
this moment will be gone like all the others
even grief sometimes has to wait its turn
The end of the stem
is where a flower starts. At the end
of a ragged leaf a sated bug steps.
The end of the trunk is where the tree
plunges past seeing and the roots’ ends
commence the purest conversion.
The river turns out on the ocean,
the sky turns over the bowl of stars
with no end to the spilling space.
Seen in an Almost Empty Elementary School Parking Lot One November Afternoon at Four-Thirty
Through the honest tree limbs a hundred vultures float
like a cloud of gnats. No like the floating ashes of burning leaves.
No as they get closer I see they are stitching something
into the air, shape of a common hunger borne aloft
and visible only through this inscribing of individual
wills in contrast and in wind, swirling like the last
sip of wine in a glass, up, down, settle, rinsed away,
all just a matter of perception of a form against
its temporary constraint, not ever really part of your
moment when it continues on, or ceases holding
your own thought against the edges of your world
as if the world was something to hold your drink
or your memories, or even your body in its form
perceived from two hundred feet up and a quarter
of a mile away as something too big to land on and eat.
With a moon not yet full behind a sky not yet clear
a glowing handprint floats over the house
holds emptiness like a drifting welcome
closed to nothing always open to you