SKIPPING STONES

 

Two versions of the same poem.  The second version is one I ran through Translation Party and compressed and tweaked.  I think I like it better than the first version, which is itself a revision of an older poem that didn’t quite work.  

 

SKIPPING STONES

Remember the occasion.
The lake just before sunset,
after the hotdogs and corn on the cob.
Your mother’s old friend,
your best grown-up friend
visiting from Wisconsin–
showed you how.

Choose a flat stone.
Hold your fingers so, 
angle your arm.

Remember when it first happened–
the miracle of stone slipping over silver water,
carving an orange path that bound
the beach to the mountains and the sun.
Gulls reeled and screamed.
Your mother packed up the basket
and your father extinguished the fire.

Can you do it now?
Can you float a slice of Earth–
for an instant make every necessary connection?
Can you believe there is somewhere
an answer you can still understand?

SKIPPING STONES

They cross the lake,
carve ripples toward the sunset–
the miracle of stone on water.

Along the violet path
gulls cry home,
clasps on the silver chain.

So many questions.
Choose the smoothest stones.
To transcend the limits

of the Spirit, you must trust
that the answers are complex. You must
learn to float stones.

QUEEN OF THE NIGHT

It has taken time,
but I have made the story mine:
how beautiful the dark,
how easy my crown.
How she would not let me be,
how she never looked
at my face.

What they don’t say is that I found
that pomegranate and ate all the seeds myself.
The thought of being up there forever
in that heat, the hard light–
the tangle of vine and blade–
and Mother.

Poor Mother.
you know the tale–
how she searched,
how she withheld
the Spring.
She always withheld
when she didn’t get her way.

She insisted the world was hers–
how the worms worked,
olives, the corn.
And always she sang the same refrain:
how she had to manage
every blossom, every grain.
How the sun and sea betrayed.

I missed her for awhile, but–
and this the stories do not tell–
I love my husband.
When he came roaring
up through the earth, driving
those lusty horses, I wanted
him and when he asked me,
I said yes.
Yes.

NOW REJOICE: EXSULTET

This is the Light surrounding the smallness of the engendering explosion,
shining behind the sun, darkening the stars,
flashing in the lingering raindrop on the unfolding
olive leaf carried swift through the clearing sky,
glancing from the stone knife trembling
over the heart of the bound and plighted child,
pulling and driving the fretting dancing
slaves through the desert and the sea.

This is the night of trumpets sounding in the high places,
in the low places, waking the Earth  between,
every creature rising up, winging down
through the old darkness singing
one word, one word, one word.

The flaming sword is broken,
the tree of life spills her fruit into our open hands;
the life is poured out on the ground,
smeared on the door for ever.
The Watcher’s work is done.

This is the night Grandfather Adam rises
from his grave beneath the place of skulls,
he dances with Grandmother Eve in their garden.
We are remade with new breath and the dust of stars.
We dance together, all together
the dance of the bees and the flame.

This is the Light beckoning
from the doorway of the stable in the rock,
blazing fast and fierce through the gray places of all created time,
spilling red and warm from the cup He holds between His trembling hands,
dazzling and glittering around the tomb’s heavy seal
in the deepest night of Earth,
burning passageways in the dark:
one path for every soul.

A shorter version of this poem was published in the now-defunct magazine “The Other Side.”  It had been published in “The Living Church” earlier, but the editor of that did not even notify me of its publication–and would not give permission for republication without being credited.   “The Other Side” editor  considered that a justice issue–so she published it again.  I’m still grateful to her.  Interestingly enough, “The Other Side” is one of only two places I’ve been published that actually paid me.  The other was another radical Christian magazine.  Justice for poets!!!!