After sunset, as azure deepens into cobalt, I lay
myself down on a wrought iron table, a weathered
appointment to my backyard. It is a quiet wild place
with a simple narrative. Urban born coyotes, at times,
in the distance. Rabbits, always rabbits, ignored
by my dog. Once, an owl. And recently, doves. My gaze
above through undulating branches of ash catches
a clear spot, a free peek at the universe. The afternoon
storm carried away July’s rage that christened our day,
yielding a healing baptism of breath. Cool flows over my
bare arms, down my legs, around my feet. I would prefer
to guide each button until undone, dropping my livery
into a puddle around my ankles leaving me unembellished.
But modesty, even in shapeless darkness, is pressed here
in the suburbs. A red hot star, the color of harlots, of
Magdalene misunderstood, a flashback to the burn
of midday, catches my eye with a blink. What does the
color red have to say about a soul seven times released?
Are there demons I walk with unaware, each one’s
diminution a step closer to the Sacred? Sanguine flowed
from His veins mapping a path. In my bittersweet days
I gaze into a mirror and see the Divine, leaving demons
behind. In my face and yours I caress Brilliance and in
the night sky I am remembered, exaulted in a crimson flash.
Never forget you are
a child of the Beloved,
rocked in her gracious arms,
held safe under his gaze.
You are a child of the Beloved.
Not one of you turned away.
Not one of you held closer
than the other.
You are sisters and brothers of
one another, one family in the Beloved.
The earth does not belong to you,
its land and fruits, all gifts to be shared,
gifts to be tended,
just as the Beloved nurses you.
you are a child of the Beloved.
Not one of you more precious,
not one of you more cherished
than the other.
Mother and terrorist,
teacher and gunman,
oppressed and the oppressor,
rest in the lap of the Beloved
swathed in forgiveness,
all made whole.
do not forget you are a child
of the Beloved, compassion
and grace rain down upon you
with boundless, unselfish passion.
Child of the Beloved,
be a mirror of your Beloved.
I struggled for a long time with how to write this poem. What form it should take? What exactly did I want to say?
I am a first grade teacher. Sandy Hook.
I live in Aurora. The Aurora Movie Theatre Shooting.
I live in Colorado. Columbine.
I am a United States citizen. 911.
The rest of the world has experienced terrorism for millennia, much longer and more intimately than I have. These current killings – Gaza and Ukraine – brought me back to the empty page.
I don’t know if it is due to my recent study of the Gospel of John with Fr. Scott Jenkins at my church. If it is the Celtic kirtan chant project I am involved in, with Macushla introducing me to the Irish lament. My recent immersion into Mary Magadlene, giving voice to her story in a monologue I wrote and will be performing later this year. Or my satsang friend, a mother, with a daughter in Israel and another friend, a mother, whose mother and father live in Palestine. It must be combination of all of these events and people that kept me from sleep this evening, muses that finally led me to this poem.
The insanity of killing one another must stop. I don’t know how, but I think it is summed up in a quote I read earlier this night from an Israeli. In response to a call for prayer from the Book of Isaiah, he said rather eloquently and simply:
“AMEN to Shalom over ego.”
I wish you peace this night and a blessing of surrender of ego.
Here is one of Macushla’s songs, “We Are Beloved of God.”
When the day rests, not just slows down,
but kicks off its shoes and leans back,
silences everything inside itself to allow
only a gentle breeze to kiss my face,
I feel You wrapping
your gentle breath around me.
I touch You. Not aureate icons shining
gold or marble statues chipped smooth
by artist hands. Not drunken hues dripping
from canvasses, but the soul of You.
it is just the two of us sheathed
in midnight blue of your eyes.
I hear your voice on leaf tipped branches,
in green gardened earth, through flowing
currents. A wordless welcome, a fall so
deep into You I forget myself and linger.
It is there and then
I know I am yours and You are mine.
The monsoon has moved on. The wind
is stilled. Leaden scarves blown from
evening’s facade unveil a keen indigo
backdrop of lucent stars flickering in
approval. The cool edge of rainstormed
nights has softened to a mellow flush.
I know what this means. Soon swelter
will make its entrance without remorse.
Days will simmer and nights will swoon,
not as lovers impassioned, but indifferent
consorts consummating their roles in
midsummer’s fervor. We will groan with fever
and sleep uneasy until once more, day pares
down and eventide spreads politely obliged.
Our summer heat is finally arriving. They say it will be close to 100 degrees tomorrow. Almost, but not quite a record. The monsoon and cool weather has made for green grass and lush gardens this year without the need for too much extra watering. A summer blessing for this dry, hot state of Colorado. As always, I will welcome the fall.
Did you hear it last night, the midsummer
monsoon swamping the cracked dry earth.
Did you notice your room alight, thunderbolts
flashing a declaration of might ever greater
than ourselves. Night storms darken our
hearts with shadowed worry, fears of what
morning’s illumination will bring. I reach
for your hand in the fury of the storm, holding
fast your to warmth, strength endowed. We
wait patiently for the scent of rain on cracked
dry earth after the clouds move on. It is not
hard rock earth forms to harbor safety but
the fluid that flows from the vein of God
baptizing us with promise. It is the scent
of dust after the storm that purifies the day,
a scent of hope that all will be well.
And it will.
Petrichor (/ˈpɛtrɨkɔər/) is the scent of rain on dry earth, or the scent of dust after rain. The word is constructed from Greek, petros, meaning ‘stone’ + ichor, the fluid that flows in the veins of the gods in Greek mythology. It is defined as “the distinctive scent which accompanies the first rain after a long warm dry spell”.
A very special thank you to my friend, Gary Sedlacek, for bringing this word to my attention this morning. It was just what I needed for my poem, one that had been lingering for a few days on an almost empty page. Thank you, Gary.
If anything has died in your summer garden
already, it is not too late to replant it. I wonder
why insects feast on some greenery not others.
If the devoured gave up their existence for the
good of the whole or just let go in futility. I am
not an attentive gardener come summer. I revel
in spring magic when small shoots appear and
tiny pots ready to plunge into earth, infinite in
trust, boundless hope. I begin the course, attempt
to plant properly, not too close, enough sun,
wet or dry, varying blooms. I try. Every year
something dies, needs a replant, and volunteers
make merry. I am not in control. So I loosen my
grip of what I fancied. In relief I remember to
watch and water. I let go of perfect lines and
bloom times. Relax with sweet peas as they
tumble from a tower too short to accommodate
their exuberance. A stand of daisies lift
immaculate manes to the sky, golden eyes bathed
in sun’s rays. Lavender spikes provender for bees.
Snaps pop in surprise, last year’s grateful nod to
my loosened grip of precision. Parsley seeds drop
a vow to return. Oregano spreads spiced wildfire.
Tall lanky stems not yet ready to reveal, I wonder
what exactly I planted. Weeds and tufts of grass
allowed as sage opens its palms between walkway
cracks. It is not neat and tidy as I contrived but a
splendid design, a wild expression of grace. My
garden grows flamboyant unfolding, myself
sublime as I surrender to the passionate Divine.