Monthly Archives: May 2016

Our Lady of Shift Lock

Upper case, lower case.
Chest voice, head voice. Shouting,
whispering. Outside voice,
indoor voice. Active voice,
passive voice. Times Roman,
Comic Sans. There are rules
the dyslexic cannot
understand, never mind
follow. It’s not about
respect; it is about
ability. There are
so many rules. Where do
they come from? How can rules
change what is said, and how?
If a battlecry is
whispered, what happens? If
someone screams out love poems
with tears streaking, running
down their face, what comes next?
If I change this voice, my
voice, am I still able
to pray? Will my prayers be
heard? Moving through margins
of this world of built things
fitting together like
puzzle pieces — walls are
not like women; paths are
safe places; gears shift to
keep us in line — there are
reasons why, good ones. Still,
I have lived a life typed
in shift lock on broken
keys. I count syllables
that make a word, the words
that make a sentence. There
are words, feelings, lives, worlds
that cannot be typed out,
because they cannot be
written shifting between
upper and lower case,
but must be fluid. Is
there a place in heaven
where God preserves the way
my mouth feels (hot and cold,
liquid ice still as an
anchor) when I do not
say your name?

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Our Lady of Light

“Quae est ista quae ascendit
sicut aurora consurgens,
pulchra ut luna, electa ut sol,
terribilis ut castrorum
acies ordinata?”

Light glints from her shoulders like spears,
like wing feathers, like lifting up

and soaring fiercely into blue,
a sky that changes everything,

the first hot dawn, hand to hand. This
is about to be. She. Flowers

know. The azaleas shift from shy
to a burning bush comprised of

a thousand tiny perfect tongues.
Tulips silken petals tremble

into long drawn out silken lines
translucent and ripe with cupped breath.

Leaves know. Vines stubbornly cling, climb,
and push forward into the light

that is right, unfurling hand-shaped
sails through which all the brightness glows,

illuminating everything
from which they are made just before

they let go. In the breeze, waltz-like,
the outermost edges of trees

shift slowly, full of potential,
as if on the verge of waking.

An impossible bumblebee
flies overhead, into branches,

settling on a wide leaf, as if
almost home. It is this for which

the light girds her in the armor
of openness, slow-coming clear.

Our Lady of Worms

Graceful sideways sidewalk dancer!
Delicately, blindly, probe
barriers & chasms (tap, sniff,
touch, taste). Then, equally gently,
bridge them. Oh, you wriggler, tickler

of palms, and terrains, and all things
subterranean; earth’s lively
living fingers that so boldly
venture skyward, robed in a slick
Joseph’s coat whose rainbow arcs from

chocolate to sand, from peony
to pulsing red, urgent as youth,
as reproduction. How lovely.
How very lovely you are. How
sad I am to see you aching,

crusted with sand and soil, muscles
meant for dancing stuttering as
grit tugs and scrapes flesh stiffly back.
You persist. After all, this is
life and death, a journey from home

to the unknown, from unknown to
the unknowable. I don’t know —
would you rather die now, like this,
or recover and try again?
I insert a twig under you,

into a momentary gap
beneath your arching belly, then
for a moment, you are airborne
as I carry you to the green
grass, soil moist as it’s meant to be.

Our Lady of May Flowers

i.
This pink tulip struggles to raise its head,
bent down with today’s rain, coming after
days of chill mixed with spikes of hot thunder.
How the thick leaves curl close, what a strong stem.

ii.

The serviceberry bloomed early this year,
and early drops its petals, white dabbing
the broad green leaves, a painterly speckling.
So soon, anthers curl, ovary thickens.

iii.

The dandelion pushes itself up, up
into the rain. It’s an old white-haired bloom,
but drenched as a toddler spinning under
a downspout, hair clumped, arms outstretched, laughing.