My friend, I’ll see you at the party. And you’ll be at peace – while we share baguettes and a cab sav far older than the former things (that includes glaciers, the Great Pyramids and cholera), there’ll be no talk of coping mechanisms and social contracts, though you might remember out loud that when the doubt fell away it was a little like God touched your hip – a galvanizing painful jolt to end the dogged struggle, the long limp away in the dark until dawn. But the blessing was worth every second, you’ll say. And both of us will be honestly fluent in the jargon of praise.
Work in the fields will still be hot, dusty work – hotter and dustier than ever before, in fact, with naked starlight blasting down on everything, drenching tanned, burnt faces with sweat, sending up shimmers of heat from the tractors – but we’ll be able to work like never before, exulting in it, shouting encouragement, banter, directions. People on the way to the City will pull up from time to time in chariots, Model Ts, or Subarus, hollering invitations from the road. Everyone will want to ride with Moses, except maybe Elijah, who will prefer to run on ahead (because he can). A miktam to the tune of “Lilies” will come on on the radio, and Asaph will be seen smiling through his beard as he heaves another hay bale onto the wagon.
for my niece
Kate Nicole, red-faced, hiccupping
image of God, you got God’s watermark today.
That was a beautiful thing to watch.
One day, because it is too easy and too hard to be human,
you might wonder what you’re worth.
I hope then you’ll hold yourself to the light
to see God’s work, which he does with a jeweller’s care,
a carpenter’s capable hands, a stone-mason’s patience,
and above all, love.
He knows how to lay a foundation.
I never felt like this
for any bird but you.
Wingling, all flutters, yes,
but not this stubborn tenderness.
when you look back,
a shell in me
rocks and cracks.
not really little, not really bird,
you don’t have to be anything for me.
How can I know you?
I want to love you accurately.
Happy Monday, neighbour!
This is a Ragnarok alarm clock:
steel rod clatter and steel saw roar,
gas engine chatter, the windy patter
of sheets of rain on the storm-wet form,
showers of sparks, the radio blasting
completely unintelligible crap,
and the rap of nailguns dropping a beat.
Only it’s not the end of the world –
it’s just the beginning.
It’s 7 am. This is not a bad dream.
Dark blue, shark sleek clean-lined
cracked creature with a nervous tic twitching,
hopping sideways, hopping mad in a ragged yellow tree.
Bad bird chatter and gibberish swears
come from the shank-beak, alien words
from the glittering mind in the yellow ragged tree.
You – you forget. You can’t afford to –
It fades over time. You’d better record it.
It was in the morning that you nearly got the bends
stumbling from the dark dream of a sleeping house
into the shock of a vast and frigid room.
The sky domed over the black topography
of rooftops, power lines and trees
was the soaring ceiling of the room,
and the whole edifice was awake with blue,
and the blind eye of the moon
was looking at you.
For a second, you froze.
Your breath smoked under that gaze.
Every individual drop of dew
blazed in that light, and Mars,
a planet for Heaven’s sake (and ours),
was simply there while you started the car.
Then there came a dawn of relief.
Then there came a diamond peace.
And something else – a memory
lost to you for quite a while –
the feeling of a conscience coming clean –
a clear-cold calm, enormous as the morning –
rooms and rooms of calm, and great halls
filled with freshness. You were crying at the door.
All along, you had believed –
you thought without thinking
you could fix your mistakes. You had to.
You’d failed. And then it was impossible to change.
But this: dew, moon, Mars,
stars, a little further up and on,
Maybe this was a glimpse of the room
that Christ is preparing for you.