ALL YOU CAN HEAR

 

 

ALL YOU CAN HEAR

“All you can hear is the wind and the stars and the fog and the snow.”

~Arthur, age 2 3/4

He can hear the stars.

His father did not ask

the sound they make.

It is too solemn a sound,

too private to describe.

Have you heard it?

After the soft snowing stops,

and Orion comes striding

through a gap in the clouds

with his dogs at his heels?

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 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 IV

O: The Magnificat Antiphons, part IV

 

4. O Clavis David

O Key of David and sceptre of the House of Israel;

you open and no one can shut;

you shut and no one can open:

Come and lead the prisoners from the prison house,

those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

Enough keys.

We have a ringful on our belts.

They rattle when we walk.

They weigh us down as we proceed

once again down the long hallway

past the doors.

A few have opened.

It took years

to find the right combination

of twist and force,

to learn the Magic Words.

We’re tired.

Our feet hurt.

And still they make barricades

on the other sides.

Set bars.

Change the locks.

We have so many heavy keys,

skeleton keys.

Put flesh on them.

Put your shoulder to the doors.

Beat them down.

Nobody answers when you knock.

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.