Winter Prompt #13: PRONGS

PRONGS

Winter Prompt #13

We raised our wands and remembered—happiness.

Not easy for us, whose families were marked,

who could do things sometimes with a careless word.

 

The time Mother made me a chocolate cake

for no reason? Fetching firewood in the forest

with Dad, and he taught me to drive the tractor?

 

Making love on the stony hilltop, with hawks

floating above us on their way to warmer lands?

I raised my wand again, and again.

 

All around me those beings of light springing:

deer, otter, fox, crow.  Don’t get mad.  (Easy for you

to say, who can summon the dead.)  Keep trying.

 

Late that summer night, climbing over the locked gate,

crossing the railroad bridge, silence everywhere,

rounding the darkest corner, fine rain

 

clinging to the pines, then the circle of light

around the lamp in the parking lot.  Exspecto

again, and from the tip of my brittle pine wand—

 

(Ah!  That’s why it chose me!)—

a meadow vole rises, carries me

to safety under the long wet grass.

MOONS

MOONS

 

1.

New moon at sunset,

caught in the branches of the oak—

Full moon at midnight

dazzling the skin of snow—

Thin moon before dawn

rising in Earth’s darkest sky—

you are the sign

of every woman growing old.

 

2.

All myths repeat themselves

in vision and in dream—

Now that I am waning

into the crescent C—

Cry, Crone, Crypt—

I am convinced:

every myth is true.

 

3.

Artemis, moon-bow of my youth

bends back into the winter dawn

and comes to me where three ways meet.

Her lamp casts shadows on the way.

She gives me one of her hounds—

a small yellow dog who watches crows,

wild dog who understands what death is for,

who wakes to foxes barking in the dark.

CLOSETS

CLOSETS

. . . open every closet in the future and evict

all the mind’s ghosts. . .

~Hafiz, trans. Daniel Ladinsky

Some closets are full

of sentimental things that mattered once:

toys and photographs, letters, old poems.

The ghosts tiptoe around the dusty boxes;

their bony toes rattle on the floor.

The ghosts moon over a ragged doll,

caress a tattered book.

Other closets are stuffed with

things of the mind, things of the heart:

things I might have done,

things I might have made,

people I might have loved.

The ghosts shake their powdery heads.

Ah, they whisper, your precious past.,

so sad, so sweet, so—passing.

 

The ghosts are not so easy to evict.

They cajole, they whine,

touch all my soft spots.

They look like my mother,

my dead sister,

the men who came so close.

They say they remember

all the stories I have to tell,

so how can I send them away?

When I look fierce at them,

they weep.

 

You are future ghosts!  I scream,

You are not the past,

you are not even memory, 

but fear of memory and its distortion.

You are not keepsakes, but anticipation of loss.

You are anxieties of times to come, 

you cover my pasts with corruption,

you haunt my futures with regret.

Be gone!

 

The ghosts whimper, they cringe.

I stamp my feet, wave my broom.

They diminish.

They flutter away like ragged moths.

The future becomes nothing but itself

and all my things, nothing but things.

O: The Magnificat Antiphons, part VI

O:  The Magnificat Antiphons, part VI

6. O Rex Gentium

O King of the nations, and their desire,

the cornerstone making both one:

Come and save the human race,

which you fashioned from clay.

The angels of the nations are tired.

They yearn for rest.  They don’t want

 

to fight one another. They want

to make love. While they would

 

settle for rest, for quiet,

for occasional rapture—

 

it’s been so long—what they desire

most is oblivion, the joy

 

of dissolution. Come, Desire.

Come Cornerstone.  Scatter them

 

into the unimaginable energies

they were before the nations

 

molded them into shapes of clay

and iron and bronze and gold.

O: The Magnificat Antiphons, Part V

O: The Magnificat Antiphons, Part V

5. O Oriens

O Morning Star,

splendour of light eternal and sun of righteousness:

Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

Sun is our morning star,

up today, here, North,

as late as it goes,

down as early.

Like Rain, Sun

doesn’t care who we are,

even if we’re righteous,

even terrible.

Risen with healing in its wings—

see the wings?—

it drives the darkness out.

So they say.

Come then, Dayspring.

Come Sun, Yellow Star.

Come Enlightening.

Come back.

Wake us up.

Make us new.

O: The Magnificat Antiphons, part III

O: The Magnificat Antiphons, part III

3. O Radix Jesse

O Root of Jesse, standing as a sign among the peoples;

before you kings will shut their mouths,

to you the nations will make their prayer:

Come and deliver us, and delay no longer.

What we need is fruit.

Come, Bathesheba’s soft sweet apricots,

Come seedful figs of David’s Mom.

Come, O come, barley from Ruth’s basket.

Be scattered and tossed,

carried by birds to God-knows-where.

Choke the thorns,

cover the highways with green,

bear and bear your million-fold.

O: The Magnificat Antiphons, parts I & II

O: The Magnificat Antiphons, parts I & II1.

 

O Sapientia

O Wisdom, coming forth from the mouth of the Most High,

reaching from one end to the other,

mightily and sweetly ordering all things:

Come and teach us the way of prudence.

O Come, Sophia,

encircle us with your long arms,

convict us with your smile.

Teach us to watch the fox

and the owl; show us the terror

of the rabbit and the vole.

Frosted grass blackens

under our heavy feet.

Show us a gentler way.

 

2. O Adonai

O Adonai, and leader of the House of Israel,

who appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush

and gave him the law on Sinai:

Come and redeem us with an outstretched arm.

 

O Come, Lord of might,

Great Lady of the stern face,

punisher of sinners. Come

and seize us by the scruffs,

knock our heads together,

make us sit in hard chairs

on either side of the battered

kitchen table. Set the timer

for five minutes, and when it rings,

make us say “We will love

one another” as if

we mean it.