Saturday 22 March 2008

Uncollected Poems: 1993

Resuming my series of older poems I still like that won't make it into a book--

Sacred Ground

It was an afternoon in the week before Easter.
The nuns at St. Clare Elementary had released
us to our families in the name of the resurrection.
That was when everything came down:
a barn and two houses were leveled at the edge of town
while surrounding winds took trees,

cars, a stray dog, and a wandering girl as temporary hostages.
When they were returned to earth ,
they were changed--
they kept some of the twisting air inside of them
as if it were part of the ransom.

These were the trees that trembled
when there was no breeze,
their leaves swaying like slowly waving hands.
The cars had a whistle inside them
that no mechanic could explain.

The dog was a midnight dervish,
his mouth would not foam nor his eyes glaze,
but some nights when the prairie was still
but for the distant murmur of truck or train,
he would idle down the center line of Hovey Avenue
to writhe and undulate
to a sensual, frenzied music
we could not hear.

The girl floated down our street, a yellow leaf
suspended in the air, descending or ascending
but never quite touching the ground.
She rounded the corner of our lot
and thus had to have passed our shed
with its backplot of the burials of family pets.
She passed the makeshift graves,

and so our burial ground was consecrated by her passing,
our half-angel, half-girl,
the wind fluttering in her chest
with the singing deep in the earth
of what has lived and died,
or aloft, the spirits yet to descend,
hovering in the living air.

written 2 April 1993
published in Zone 3

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