Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Saturday, May 01, 2010

Two poems

by Jacqueline Osherow

God's Acrostic

What if the universe is God's acrostic?
He's sneaking bits of proverbs into seismic variations;
Abbreviating psalms in flecks of snow.
Try to read them, says a comet,

If you dare.
Fine print. What you've been waiting for.

Twisted in the DNA of marmosets:
Hermetic feedback to your tight-lipped prayer.
Examine indentations left by hailstones in the grass;

Unearth their parallel soliloquies;
Note, too, the shifting patterns in the shibboleths
Initiating each communication.
Verify them. Don't take my word.
Eavesdrop on the planets in the outer spheres; they may
Reverse the letters' previous direction.
Silence, as you might imagine, has no bearing here.
Episodes of stillness—however brief—must be

Interpreted as unheard

Gaps that, with any luck, you'll fill in later—
Or so you tell yourself, acknowledging
Delusion's primal status in this enterprise.
Still, that's no reason to slow down.

Abandonments are howling out around you:
Cast-off lamentations from the thwarted drops of rain
Reduced to vapor on their struggle down;
Observe, at the very least, their passing.
Sanctify them. Don't succumb
To anything less potent than a spelled-out
Invitation to rule a not yet formulated nebula.
Calm yourself. You'll hear it come.

Poem for Jenny

Larkspur and delphinium, wild and tame
transcriptions of the same essential idiom
(as lullaby, corralled, is requiem,
a sigh, bound and gagged, a lyric poem).

Earth's trying to remake herself with stars,
her own inky domain of skyey colors.
She wants everything. It won't be hers.

Her starry flowers, heedless of safeguards,
will launch their blue and purple rockets heavenwards
and leave her to her dusty browns and reds,
her brief sky shattered, just as words —

the good ones, anyway — will quit this page
before I ever pay this garden homage
or name the pain I'm trying to assuage.

Nonetheless, these clusters are in flower
if only for an instant, as they were
a year ago, when Jenny (this poem's for her),
knowing how I love them, put them here

to make the way around my house less bitter.
My next-door neighbor, she'd watched things shatter
and so came by to plant and tend and water

and whatever else it is that gardeners do.
And I remember catching a dim glimpse, as if through
an impossible tunnel — what's all that blue? —
and thinking, as one thinks of something wholly out of view,

how lovely it would be to lay my eyes on them,
though they were there, waiting, each time I came home:
larkspur out the back, out front delphinium

(the cultivated version for the public eye,
its wild incarnation just for me . . . )
and once or twice I did suspect that beauty
and kindliness had aimed themselves my way

but each was such a difficult abstraction,
at best unverifiable, uncertain,
a meteor I wasn't sure I'd seen.

I, who'd been so lucky up to then,
was utterly astonished by what pain —
in its purest form — can make out of a person.
It was (such things exist) a brutal season

and one that's not entirely departed
though time has passed; flowers, twice, have sprouted.
The earth will be, twice over, broken-hearted,

which means, at least, according to King David,
in his most unnerving psalm, closer to God.
Me? I'd leave some distance if I could
though it would be untrue to say no good

has come from any of this. See? out my window
the earth again has sheathed herself in indigo;
this may be the time she makes it through:

her sapphire daggers, bursting their scabbards,
carve frantic constellations: elfin songbirds
vehement with blue and purple chords;
earth's reaching for her heavens, I for words

or any chink of rapture I can claim.
Delphinium. Larkspur. Larkspur. Delphinium.
Let me claim you as you climb and climb.


Anonymous Henry said...

Beautiful poems - thanks for posting them!

6:51 PM  

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