Imagine Grace. An angel.
A slender, sturdy girl of seven,
in sundress and sandals, curly hair,
and a face the whole, unopened seed
of compassionate wisdom.
she places her foot between the chess pieces,
stops the checkmate before it begins.
Places her foot between warring heads
of brother and sister,
paper doll thin,
absorbed as they are by their self-absorption,
bent to their task of ruining the other.
She playfully dissolves rather than defeats
their moves toward domination.
This is her act of divine intervention, of grace,
One can barely see her wings.
She sees the old autumn leaves leap like popcorn,
flinging themselves to the sky like an ordinary miracle.
The little brown birds, hidden and scratching in the dirt,
ascend suddenly, as if chased.
The small statue of St. Francis, angel
to the animals of her garden,
steps forward from his pedestal to summon
a sleepy creature to his bowl of seed
on this day of the winter solstice. Then he freezes.
The young woman sees, with a child’s disappointment,
how a branch has moved, not him.
She is still expecting magic, the way she did when a young boy
dressed in a pine green tuxedo, bent to her,
like St. Francis to a shy bird,
and she stood very still until he suddenly
pulled back to say, “I’ve never done this before. Have you?”
Then laid his lips on hers.
And now, this evening--
as she descends the path through her garden,
an ancient tiny half of a blue eggshell,
precarious among the hard rocks,
announces its joyous story of birth.
She takes it in the nest of her palm,
listens while it reads to her from its brown spots.
And here, at the bottom of the garden,
her dog’s red furry toy, long forgotten,
sticking up from a shallow black hole in the
wet winter earth of the garden like a spring poppy.
Woman & Leaf
Woman stands on the porch,
studies the dusk.
Now coolness comes like a knife.
A leaf is set adrift
when the brittle stem breaks.
The leaf falls down
and takes its time.
Dying has a time.
The old leaf takes its time.
Woman stands and watches.
The old leaf dances,
papery in the gravity of dusk.
The old leaf dances this way and that.
Takes its time.
Woman rubs her hip and finds her chair,
music in her mind
for old leaf,
which must take its time.
Dying leaf pirouettes
as only a leaf can which
holds no weight.
Dying leaf is almost dust,
its wings ragged,
its color like a brown moon
falling behind the mountain.
Woman considers the dying leaf,
remembers a brown moon
falling behind a mountain.
Woman feels the dusky chill on her cheeks.
But baby must wait for leaf,
Woman settles back in her chair,
follows old leaf
with her eyes,
music in her mind.
Old leaf, old ham,
swoops quickly towards woman--
Old leaf, showing off, old fool,
hits the roof of the porch.
Old brown moon leaf,
somersaults off the roof.
Woman says, “Wait.”
Old leaf decides
no – now is not the time.
Not now, oh no.
And old leaf climbs on the back
of an evening puff of air
and rides for all its worth.
Breaks in two.
Woman watches one half sink into the dark,
wills the other half to fly.
Baby cries again.
Woman calls, “Come.”
Baby slap-foots out and
climbs into woman’s lap,
leans into woman’s chest,
hears woman’s heart.
Half leaf hears woman’s heart,
lets go of evening puff
and sashays back.
Dusk holds its breath.
Baby breathes deep.
Woman holds Baby and
starts a prayer.
Falls first on the point of a lobe,
and then flat,
Dying leaf has dropped
Brown moon has set.
Woman breathes out.
Dusk is deep.