A Monk Commences His Vow

Having pledged his voice
to the monastery, he attends

the growling sky; clouds muscled
with pure element brace duskily,
crafting thunder in their bowels.

This, he knows, is something steeper
than any cliff of manhood; it is the last
ascent into solvent beauty.

Within his robe–a gift
of the friary and fitted to repair
the iniquities of flesh–

he angles every nerve
toward the orchestra
of Autumn’s grand departure.

A blinding root cleaves the soil
of night, and the drum
of the heavens is started.

Soon, winter will mute the land
with its slow, white plague, asking of it
the same vow.

And with the land, his mortal sense
diminished, he will learn the key
with which one harmonizes

the silence without and the silence within.



The way years of repetition give a dancer
jointless grace, she hoists the bed sheet
making of it flawless convexity. From the window
a thrust of air laced with the opiates of late summer
huddles beneath: loosening sap, pollen teamed and shifting
making corporeal the air as schools of minnow
do the sea. In that vacant moment
as the sheet exhales

she lets herself forget. The last year, when the anxieties
bound to health metastasized into acceptance.
And further: cancer found at sixty-five, then rooted out
like a heretic from the once peaceful township
of his body; the stroke that left his brain
an anemone softly tousled by
surrounding currents –all muted
in the cradle of domestic resolve.

But as the fabric, fully winded, settles in
sketching the eroded topography of the
husband of fifty-nine years, who once daily
scared her with his anger, who now breaks her
heart with lightness of his arm she must lift
to tuck him in

the present reasserts in bolder strokes
than before, in deeper, less forgiving
blacks. Punishment, she thinks,
for allowing this moment
of unalloyed

A Meditation at St. Andrew’s Memorial Park

Watching the dew gather
in a sigh upon the grass, your absence feels
like a spider loitering on the soul.

What strange tensility the soul’s skin has,
to endure for years the sledges of grief,
only to break now against the fog
raising its hymn
among the blushing maple.

Sometimes I’ve nothing left
but to touch that absence as one would
the cheek of a sleeping child
and marvel at how this dogged grove
weaves the sun and works the rain
into one more lush renewal.