“and even you forgot those brilliant flashes seen from afar” -Ruth Stone

MEDEVAC

Off to the east above Monadnock, the speck
of a chopper between the clouds. I watched
from below like a child in my yard, knowing
in the time it would take to sharpen my saw
it would return with a victim inside. So, I prayed
as I waited for the thrum of its blades blending
the sky to a deeper blue on its return,
and when it did, I prayed again until the silence
resumed across the sky that was so vast
but also small, I could feel the hurt of the patient
inside—a woman I learned the following day;
someone I knew, still hanging on.

 

 

LAST GOODBYE IN THE TIME OF CORONA

“He died alone, and he will be buried alone.” —Der Spiegal

The darkness arrived without your voice
or touch, my love, and yet I heard
your voice and felt your hand in mine.
Nothing in the end, not even death,
can loose my grip from yours.
What can I say that echoes here
and beyond? Just this:
you were always so contagious, dear,
my hazelnut, my vast,
but unlike this germ, you infected me
with a love that made me better
than well, that was a gift of bliss
I didn’t deserve.
So take these words that are not mine
but the ones you gave me
in the silence of this room
and I return.
You were there, I tell you.
You were there when I was crossing
from there to here,
and you are here as well, right now.
No absence—yours or mine—
can fill itself with itself anywhere
when two have loved
as we did love, if only for a time.

 

 

MOTH

Now you are no longer caught in the obsession with darkness,
and a desire for higher love-making sweeps you upward.”
       
From The Holy Longing by Goethe

Out of nowhere, which is every-
where, a leaf sings to you
in the air as you fall asleep:
“My love, my soul, my vermin,
the sky is your chrysalis, so lie
inside its blue and darkness
long enough to feel the bones
of your wings begin to grow,
then grow some more until
they’re long enough to form
a thin prehensile frame
for the delicate veil that spans
their arc with a fabric that seems
too frail to lift a body up
but does somehow, infused
as it is with a tensile strength
that starts as a dream inside
the dark in which you fly
and land, land and fly in the over-
story that bedights you
with leaves that wave like hands
until the day they cast the spell
that opens you as a book
whose pages flutter as a spectral
text for children to read and then
remember, and a chorus sings:
‘Bless the air beneath your wings.
Bless the flight that seemed absurd
when you were larval, self-
consuming, and bound to Earth
by a thousand legs.’”

 

 

THE MUSIC OF BEING, A SONG OF PRAISE IN A TIME OF PLAGUE

“By this time, we are both an open secret.”
     —James Wright

“He also showed me a tiny thing in the palm of my hand, the size of a hazelnut.
I looked at this with the eye of my soul and thought: ‘What is this?’
And this is the answer that came to me: ‘It is all that is made.”
     —Julian of Norwich

Hold a hazelnut up to your eyes
as a lens for seeing through,
then wake to a katydid and say its name.
Stand in a room and stare at the wall,
then ask yourself what exists between
you and the wall. These are the ways
for seeing the distillation that turns
your blood to the color of a maple leaf
in autumn. Know each living
and inanimate thing as a prescription
for “seeing blindness,” then see
in blindness how suddenly visible
are the things you couldn’t see before
when you were only seeing. Behold,
how mystifying then is the world
and also risible, no matter how ugly
or deadly: a bobfish here, a viper there.
Hear how they cry in silence, as if silence,
too, were a word stripped of sound,
so only those who crave the secret
of the Hand above the dark and bottomless
waters can see and hear the cloud
that’s also the palm of the Hand
that passes over the waters. So holy,
whole, and beguiling is each enormous
tiny thing that when you see them all
together through the lens of a hazelnut,
you feel so shriven you speak their names
in the dark until each thing becomes
your name as well—mullein, elder,
pokeweed, and elm; each one a synonym
for the other, despite their differences;
such is the blessing of irony in every thing,
as well as nothing; each name so true
and therefore original you revel in them,
including your own, the one you were given,
no matter how plain or unusual,
no matter how difficult or riven.
Such are the notes to the music of being
that plays each time you carry its tune.

Appears in this issue
Chard DeNiord’s poetry collections include In My Unknowing (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2020); Interstate (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015) among others.

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