Tuesday, August 30, 2011



She had sought to bring good tidings
and salvation.
Seeing the photographs in magazines at Christmas,
the pleas to save the precious little ones
from starvation
with a lamb, or rabbits,
or a tidy sack of seeds—
a child herself, she took these things to heart
and prayed
and wondered at the partiality of God.

She had longed to minister to the ones
from whom surely God had turned away his face.
She would comfort all the children
and bring them food and faith

but when, at last, she was among them
battered, hungry, broken
the withered, silent babies
dying in their mother’s arms,
their empty eyes consumed her courage
and burned into her cheery,
robust health.
Some spirit within her faltered,
her fingers trembled
and in her heart
she was afraid.

For all her prayers she could do nothing,
no solace offer, no relief.
She might simply brush the flies from babies’ faces—
pray to comprehend one day
the immensity of suffering in the world of men
and wonder at her favour in the eyes of God.

Monday, August 29, 2011



I shall call him Nero,
you may call him what you will.

Nero, he’s the one fiddled while Rome burned?
This one idles a computer
while it rains.
And floods.

I work, my arms ache
my back—
but mostly my heart and hands
wringing with heaviness.
Over and over
heavy water on the floor
heavy tears

The sky is dark
and pouring.
Darker my heart
and it rains,
and it floods.

Nero reads a book,
sipping wine.
I mop, sweeping in long strokes.
My hands are soft,
the work is hard.
I wring towels
into buckets of dark bubbles,
my muddied dreams.
Over and over
for hours.

Nero comments wryly
“Better get on the roof and see where it’s coming in.”


But Nero will have better things to do tomorrow.
And the next time it rains
as the last time—
and every time and time again
down the years.

When it rains
it floods.

Over and over
the towels sop and sop
I wring and wring,
and my heart
is hardened against him.

Thursday, January 6, 2011




Slowly we ascend the dome.

Not the far reaches of heaven’s gate do we pass
nor the blue sky
but the beautifully painted figures of Correggio
or Michelangelo.

Swimming in air, arms reach and press
reach and press
growing used to
resistance and
the soft flutter--

our newfound limbs
bird hollow
our sweet breath
            electric with flight
and then, glancing down

a dark hole in the earth
the mouth of the towers
broken teeth, ragged shell;

we leave

a burnt offering
            circling upward

and a slow shuffle of wings.

Joan Stone