(June/July 2000)

Copyright (c) 2000 First Things 104 (June/July 2000): 12, 14, 34, 44, 52.

The Charmed Life

This sleight of hand persists
The light through bands of leaf
The lemon scented knife
Our gods like fading mists

This hocus pocus just goes on
A choir of frogs announcing spring
The rain wet skin of musk that clings
A thin smirk on a wedge of moon

This sullen sorcery colludes
With youth’s extravagance
Of turrets and rose gardens
Laughing streets where dusk never intrudes

The magic cup and blessed wafer
Arthur rising from his mythic sleep
The ghost dances and vigils that we keep
With perfect virgins and yet we are no safer

This sleight of hand resists
The falling of those leaves
The lemon cleanser scent deceives
Even at the knife the dream persists

–B. R. Strahan

The Strength to Grasp
Ephesians 3:14–21

No heart too small that its every beat
is not known, weighed and measured.

These are the rules:
size does not matter, depth does,
and breadth, and height shimmers in the distance
far above, where eyes grew blurry with
the cold and wind and airlessness

But no matter: that is not
what this is about; it is about that one
what, the inscrutable how, which
explains itself beyond explaining when I
behold the fresh and newborn gaze of my child,
of my beloved

and so plunge myself into the deep
enfolding ocean
of your love.

-Eugene Zemp DuBose

Morning Haiku

Morning tea: the steam
is filled with a holy ghost.
Sunlight floods the room.

Morning light comes down
through the cross–patterned window.
Eyes half–closed, in shade,

I lift up my eyes
to the cross–shadowed morning.
Orisons, arise.

–Craig Payne

Philadelphia, September 1987

Brown brittle leaves
Rustle on the walk
Like ancient manuscripts.

A child laughs.
He chases down a sheaf
And crushes it to dust.

Can the dry wind bring the rain?
Can dead leaves be green again?

–Peter Leithart

From the Kitchen Window

Chipmunk chewing on a mushroom
In late May, late afternoon,
Amid patches of nervous sun,
They tell us the galaxies couldn’t care less
About little nothings such as this.
It may be so,
And it may be so
Our little chipmunk here
Has his own ideas
On what to explore
And what to ignore.

–D. Q. McInerny