In primal garden
owned by him
don't eat or
sure you'll die.
in us all,
you stumble toward
that other tree,
Eternity is uncorrupted light;
the world proceeds by interrupting sight,
exchanging day and night.
Half the acts of earth avoid the sun;
much that's done
may be begun by day but end at night:
aborted, buried light
is customary here; it shocks no more
than does a war
such as the one we wage against the innocents-
receives its time of rest at end of day:
we get away
with most of what we do-or so it seems
in darkened dreams.
Millions, millions scraped out by the left
hand and the right. Rounding bellies cleft,
translucent fingers reft
from reaching hands. "Curettage" is the word
fit to be heard;
"killing by ripping the baby apart" is cruel
and seldom heard in school.
"Suction" pulls the nerves and bones away
like child's play,
like sucking a soft strawberry through a straw.
The moral law
has been "salted out": it comes out burned
instead of churned
and bears grotesque resemblance to a man
in a can.
The doctor pricks earth's salt into the womb
and makes of it a sour, corrupted tomb.
that no soul has been poisoned by this cup,
the methods and anesthetizing sermons
invented by the Germans.
A final and emergency solution
through disseverance: life is cleanly blocked,
The result looks like a Jew who's crawled
dead. Our instrument's the arrogance
Devils entertained in darkness resemble
angels, and by nature will dissemble.
Saints, believe and tremble
as the world in dark and light revolves.
But life resolves
itself in light, and disobedience
is washed from innocence
like dark blood dabbed from busy doctors' fingers.
All that lingers
is the uncorrupted will of God in light;
will turn behind that single, perfect day.
is all that festers, kills, denies and stains.
Man in a Glacier
The mountainside failed. But when
we saw that deep spot the dead sun
came back heavy as an engine
and my pick rattled like a gun.
The ice unravelled; we peeled it from
his toothy face, glittering brown,
a woody rubber round his mind,
the Bronze Age still stuck to his tongue.
We etched; I touched his empty thumb.
My present echoed like a tomb.
We stood in the twilight alpine wind.
We knelt into the glassy loam
until our slowing fingers numbed,
stroking out his ancient stone
with gentleness like fishes' fins,
tinkering his resurrection-
trowelling out unfinished bone
four thousand years away from home-
cold laboring late angels asking him,
Who do you say I am?
Tell me everything you know, the sapient sage
asked the seeker, and, since the former was,
in his role, an editor, the latter filled page
after page of all that followed and preceded cause
and wherefore and why and when. Which he gave
to waiting world and bookman with a flourish, so:
here's the sum of all my learning, all I have,
the full measure of all and everything I know.
Which was all interesting enough, editor and world
said, but not really what we all had in mind:
the telling interesting things are what lie curled
away from what you first off easily, simply, find:
go instead where you haven't gone; go fast or slow
-return, if you will, and tell us all you don't know.
James Andrew Miller
From a distance
it looked like ordinary
wood, a snuff-colored twig
one might rake
for burning. Surfaced
by the bulldozer
from a sarcophagus of clay, it
could have been the brittle
finger-bone of a prophet, or a
phalange of an extinct ape
from another age. Black
spruce, the geologist says,
buried by the last glacier
budging across Illinois.
The branch lies cool
against the palm. You count
the rings in cross-section:
fourteen. One for each
millennia the tree was a secret
no one knew to tell. You
feel a rush of centuries
receding and for a moment
stand among its antecedents.
The conifer reaches for thin
blue sky, breathes
air full of promise.
In the silhouette
you see a tree waiting
Thinking of my grandparents,
I stand for a moment on the curb
of a street they often walked,
the old walks cracked and chipped,
and I want to call out to them,
as if they were climbers just ahead
moving across rock and fields of ice,
rubble in the slip of years past.
But if they spoke, would it only
be to say, watch the path, here
a climber fell, and there another,
into the dark heart of the world?
The day of my grandmother's funeral
the boulevards were full of rain,
and grandfather's a year later,
came in deep June, just as the
roses he had planted
forty years before, had thrown
their blossoms across the porch.
By then, though, their friends
were mostly gone and inside
the parlour furniture was worn
and the frame house smelling
of old clothes and old people.
By then too I had heard that great pulse,
closed my eyes, and stepped forward,
right at the icy edge of their certainty.
Ralph St. Louis