from “Extended Outlook”
“The tree is a violin bow
scraping the sound box of the house
all day. Close to the ribbed
breath, the scrolled end of wind under the eaves
turns back on the fine-tuned neck,
answers the shrill
jay in the caterwaul of blue
and fading light.”
from “Sanding the Chairs”
“Every layer of paint, a country of wishes: the days
of townships lying in harbor
riding at anchor
follow the stars”
from “The Geologist’s Map”
“Cut off / from her past, the continent drifted”
Blue Dusk (2001)
Deep roots, high branches
My poem, “The Tree of Your Life,” now appears in Midwifery Today 120 (Winter 2016), 4.
The tree of your life
has deep roots in the earth
and branches sky-high:
like a mother’s placenta
imprinted dark red
on a white piece of paper –
like da Vinci’s Renaissance drawings of man:
a microcosm in the macrocosm
of the universe –
like an ancient parable of a mustard seed
that springs up into eternity
where souls, like birds, find their home.
Every green leaf of your tree
holds the veins of memory,
open and thriving with sap:
so that even when the leaf ages in autumn,
turns red, then golden, then brown,
and falls, crackling under careless feet,
a powerful wind comes and carries away
the precious molecules of your tree-dust,
in which every cell holds the DNA
of the past that fertilizes the future
and the new seeds, the…
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Beautiful in winter
Beyond All Bearing
In winter, when pines weary,
When aligned limbs quiver with longing,
And the ground moans under gravity’s weight,
It’s then, through the northern night
That concentric silver circles radiate
Like wind-borne waves racing shoreward,
Beautiful beyond all bearing.
. . . . . . . .Swifter still—
God speeds across the cosmos
Earthward, arms open wide.
from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, December 7, 2015 — by Susan Delaney Spear
photo by Christine Klocek-Lim
My poem, “The Ladder of Contemplation,” now appears in Literature Today 5 (2016), 27.
And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! Genesis 28:12
THE LADDER OF CONTEMPLATION
Sometimes the total madness of being human
makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time.
Like that acrobat-girl I saw on a Cirque du Soleil stage
in San Francisco: surrounded by smiling performers,
she could not pretend.
The ladders on that stage reached into the heights
of the circus tent, and men and women climbed them,
only to jump down, dancing in mid-air,
or bicycling upside down, or flipping and spinning
and landing, feet-first, on the trampoline
and bouncing back, reaching out to catch the ropes
swinging above their heads, like angels
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How Can It Be?
How can it be that you are there
Quiet, hidden and at peace
In the long still silence of the monastery cell
And then, joyful and clamorous
In the eternal songs
Of thunder, waterfall and fire?
How can it be
That, from the first beginnings and beyond,
Your gentle love
Fills to teeming fullness and repletion
The atom and the universe, unceasingly?
How can it be that you gaze
Upon my frailty
Only to love
So deeply what you see?
Of Poetry and God (2016)
L’Angélus de Millet
Conveyed there by an artist’s hand
In peasant garb, at harvest time,
A couple in the twilight stand
As church bells, in the distance, chime
And ring out to remind the pair
And others who are at their toil
That here and now is time for prayer
And time to leave the busy soil
And so the tools of work are laid
Aside, while labour turns to rest,
And there the Angelus is prayed
Her hands are joined, his cap is pressed
Against his breast, their heads are bowed
The sun sets silent as they say
The reverential words aloud
Which they repeat, this hour, each day:
An angel’s pledge do they avow?
Or does some grief inflame their prayer?
The basket holds its secret now
The unseen coffin, hidden there.
Of Poetry and God (2016)
“Human nature is so faulty that it can resist any amount of grace and most of the time it does … It is easy for any child to pick out the faults in the sermon on his way home from church every Sunday. It is impossible for him to find out the hidden love that makes a man, in spite of his intellectual limitations, his neuroticism, his own lack of strength, give up his life to the service of God’s people, however bumblingly he may go about it … It is what is invisible that God sees and that the Christian must look for. Because he knows the consequences of sin, he knows how deep you have to go to find love … To expect too much is to have a sentimental view of life and this is a softness that ends in bitterness. Charity is hard and endures.”
Letter to Cecil Dawkins in Pilgrim Souls: A Collection of Spiritual Autobiographies, ed. Amy Mandelker and Elizabeth Powers (1999), 539-40.