thank you words that burn an offering bound in rope pulled tight laid upon the fire like a lamb or Isaac costs me something as if my flesh were on the flame
a lonely leaf scrapes down an empty street where all the doors are locked for winter behind them faces that I long to see hands I cannot touch clouds that shroud the stars make a lousy blanket I pull my scarf over my ears and hurry home
home glows like a box lantern on the little hill the door this door opens for me air warm as wind over hot sand rushes out onto the stoop throws its arms around my shoulders pulls me inside
unwrap the scarf take off the boots set my bitter feet before the hearth between chattering teeth I breathe words that burn and turn my hardened heart to weeping like wax beneath a flame I offer thanks
The moon is nothing but a moon Cold and colorless Her gravity barely holding the feet of men to her dry and dusty shores Barren She wheels round and round the earth On a path she didn’t choose While gazing down upon that celestial spring That spinning womb that Gives birth to trees and snakes and little league
The moon is nothing but a moon Reflecting only another’s fire She doesn’t burn or even turn Her head Part of her always hidden Always facing away Her far side1 never seen by earth-eyes Half-shadowed She still kindles trees and snakes and valentines
The moon is nothing but a moon And yet Her being Just her being Is weight enough to stir the waters Call forth hidden springs Just her pushing, pulling Presence Steadies the spinning womb Midwifes trees and snakes and birthday cakes
The moon is nothing but a moon And yet Even on her far side The sun still shines Limning mountains, filling craters Silvering sands that None will ever see In her hiding place The moon is gleaming Bearing beams of love2 for trees and snakes and cups of tea
*One night, while searching for inspiration for a submission to my monthly poetry group**, I paused to meditate on the Jess Franks calendar that hangs by my bed. Butterflies have been on my heart a lot lately, but it was her two line poem that really caught my attention. BAM! Suddenly the spring opened and there I was at 2:00 a.m. scribbling away. Jess’s art is great example of how inspired creativity is like a mountain spring, or a deep well, a gift that keeps on giving.
**As part of our poetry group prompt for August, this poem loosely follows a form known as Pantoum, a poem of any length, composed of four-line stanzas in which the second and fourth lines of each stanza serve as the first and third lines of the next stanza. The last line of a pantoum is often the same as the first.
(a paraphrase of Psalms 23, 73, 91, 139 and Zephaniah 3)
Where can I go to get away from You? Where can I run, that You are not already there? If I go up to the heavens, You are there And if I descend to the depths of despair Even to the grave, there You are
You are with me when I am flying high, soaring through life But if I land in an unfamiliar place where no one knows my name or speaks my language, still You are holding on to me
If I grieve and weep and wail with bitterness in my heart If I stand before You like a brute beast, acting without understanding If I throw a tantrum like a spoiled child Or hide under the table trembling in fear If I shut You out like an angry teenager If my body fails me Or my mind becomes weak and I cannot even remember You Nevertheless, You are with me Your right hand will hold me fast
You have shattered glass to rescue me Shaken mountains Torn down walls To get to me To set me free
As the song goes, “You don’t give Yourself in pieces”* So I won’t give myself in pieces either and “You don’t hide Yourself to tease us”* So I won’t hide myself from You
Actually, not even darkness can hide me from You You see through every darkness Even the darkness of my heart Even the darkness that hides in darkness You see the real me
The spark of my soul rests in Your heart Untouched by human hands, my being hides in You
I will rest in You like a baby bird beneath the shadow of her mama’s wings Even in the presence of my enemies You will feed and nourish my soul You will sing to me with joy
We are one You and me Inseparable, free Your love will never let me go
‘Ocean at Night’ was written in response to a prompt in my poetry group, in which were to focus on onomatopoeia, which led me to thoughts like “How do you describe the sound of ocean waves crashing on the shore to people who’ve never heard it before? Is there any description that does it justice?” My answer was this poem.
Sunset on Treasure Island, FL. Photo by Nichole Q Perreault
Sunset in Big Sur. Photo Credit: Christina Perreault (used with permission)
How do you capture the sky a sunset over the ocean?
Is there some enchanted glass
I can hold in my hand
whisper and watch
as the satin tapestry
hanging before me,
gilded blue and molten
gathers at the hem
like a cool drink
past that vial’s lip,
the bottle’s neck
folds of sunlight
wave upon wave
until the last frayed corner
the last thread
below the rim,
filling the crystal flask
with fireball pink
coppers and golds
luster and light
of the night’s first star?
How do you capture the longing
fear that tingles in the toes
something like worship?
Is there a vessel
for what these hands
can never hold?