Yield to Change




I went out to cut a last batch of zinnias this
morning from the back fencerow and got my shanks
chilled for sure: furrowy dark gray clouds with
separating fringes of blue sky-grass: and the dew

beaded up heavier than the left-overs of the rain:
in the zinnias, in each of two, a bumblebee
stirring in slow motion. Trying to unwind
the webbed drug of cold, buzzing occasionally but

with a dry rattle: bees die with the burnt honey
at their mouths, at least: the fact’s established:
it is not summer now and the simmering buzz is out of
heat: the zucchini blossoms falling show squash

overgreen with stunted growth: the snapdragons have
suckered down into a blossom or so: we passed
into dark last week the even mark of day and night
and what we hoped would stay we yield to change.
~A.R. Ammons  “Equinox”

We yield now
to the heaviness of the change,
the slowing of our walk
and the darkening of our days.
It is time;
when day and night compete
and neither wins.




Congeries of Colored Things





It is a fault of infinity to be too small to find.
It is a fault of eternity to be crowded out by time.
Before our eyes we see an unbroken sheath of colors.
We walk amid a congeries of colored things that part before our steps
to reveal more colored things.
Above us hurtle more things, which fill the universe.
There is no crack.
Where, then, is the gap through which eternity streams?

It is our lives we love, our times, our generation, our pursuits.
And are we called to forsake these vivid and palpable goods
for an idea of which we experience not one trace?
Am I to believe eternity outranks my child’s finger?

Annie Dillard from Teaching a Stone to Talk

If we look closely enough
we see farthest
with eyes closed
to the distraction of life’s colored things,
real and imagined.

Eternity — beyond what we can know
Infinity — beyond what we can conjure

We reach for it
because we are told
it is within our grasp.







The Tenderness of Mortals



How joyful to be together, alone

as when we first were joined
in our little house by the river
long ago, except that now we know

each other, as we did not then;
and now instead of two stories fumbling
to meet, we belong to one story
that the two, joining, made. And now

we touch each other with the tenderness
of mortals, who know themselves:
how joyful to feel the heart quake

at the sight of a grandmother,
old friend in the morning light,
beautiful in her blue robe!
~Wendell Berry “The Blue Robe”


Not grandparents (yet) but after 34 years together, we are gray enough and have earned enough wrinkles and sags to know well each other and the familiar landscape we occupy together.

So good to know our hearts still quake with the tenderness of mortals growing old together!





Let Fall Your Shadows





Lord: it is time. The summer was immense.
Let fall your shadows on the sundials,
upon the fields let loose your winds.

Command the last fruits to be full;
give them just two more southern days,
Press them to completion, and chase the last
sweetness into the heavy wine.

Who has no house now – he will never build.
Whoever is alone now, long will so remain;
will stay awake, and read, and write long letters
and wander the alleys up and down,
restless, as the leaves are drifting.
~Rainer Maria Rilke “Autumn Day”


This sadness that fall brings
is less about the ending of a long hot dry summer
and more about deepening shadows,
the fullness of harvest,
the drifting and dying to self.

I am misty in memories
of children dressed for school
eating around a full kitchen table,
of chores done hurriedly on frosty mornings,
of afternoons darkening too early
from drizzly clouds,
of nights under heavy comforters.

Lord, it is time.  Too soon, too soon.
Help ready me.






Where to Pour Its Gold



As if until that moment
nothing real
had happened since Creation

As if outside the world were empty
so that she and he were all
there was — he mover, she moved upon

As if her submission were the most
dynamic of all works: as if
no one had ever said Yes like that

As if one day the sun had no place
in all the universe to pour its gold
but her small room
~Luci Shaw  “Virgin” from Accompanied by Angels: Poems of the Incarnation


In this day of teaching young adults
“Yes means Yes” formal consent
and some states making it law of the land,
how can any of us comprehend
the “Yes” from young Mary so long ago?
How could she know
her submission transformed us all,
opening herself
to the Holy Spirit changed everything
in heaven and on earth to gold.
When we say “Yes” like her,
we too allow entrance to
our broken hearts,
our doors and windows flung wide open,
flooded in gold.

“Let it be to me as you have said…”



The Future Flowering




We kill at every step, not only in wars, riots, and executions. We kill when we close our eyes to poverty, suffering, and shame. In the same way all disrespect for life, all hard heartedness, all indifference, and all contempt is nothing else than killing. With just a little witty skepticism we can kill a good deal of the future in a young person. Life is waiting everywhere, the future is flowering every­where, but we only see a small part of it and step on much of it with our feet.
~Hermann Hesse, from Vivos Voco, 1919

Hundreds of thousands of people have the choice of living (and likely dying) oppressed in the midst of conflict, too often with the risk of being enslaved and raped, or to try escape to an uncertain fate on the other side of a border, a fence, a turbulent sea.

So many of us are here, living in countries that sustain and grow us, because we descend from people who escaped war, or hunger, or extreme poverty. Many of us worship a God who was a refugee Himself from a king who sought Him dead.

Can we extend a hand of hope to millions who also want to put roots down in safety so their lives, and their childrens’ lives, may flower?   Even if it means less soil for us all, are we not the privileged gardeners to prepare the ground so all people may flourish?






Like a Child From the Womb


 I am the daughter of Earth and Water,
         And the nursling of the Sky;
I pass through the pores of the ocean and shores;
         I change, but I cannot die.
For after the rain when with never a stain
         The pavilion of Heaven is bare,
And the winds and sunbeams with their convex gleams
         Build up the blue dome of air,
I silently laugh at my own cenotaph,
         And out of the caverns of rain,
Like a child from the womb, like a ghost from the tomb,
         I arise and unbuild it again.
~Percy Bysshe Shelley from “The Cloud”
This has been a week of cloudy images — some light and carefree,
some heavy laden and threatening,
some brilliant, some not so much~~
some lying face down in the water on a Turkish beach,
it seems at a glance almost as if napping, but this sleep is forever.
This has been a week of the world slapped to its senses
to witness children dying trying to escape war and evil —
this is nothing new in the history of humanity.
We kill our unborn children every day in our own private wars
that we justify without guilt or regret.

Now confronted by images of dead children while eating breakfast,
this one boy out of thousands dead made millions cry cloudy with the shame of it,
so many tears falling like raindrops soaking deep on holy ground,
ground we must share with the poor and oppressed,
ground we no longer can hoard.

These images change from one moment to the next,
birthing life, taking life,
a child in the womb to ghost in the tomb,
lying drowned on a beach
we come undone,
we unbuild the walls we hide behind.