through the ice-sheeted windows
landscapes move by,
frozen watercolor paintings
somewhere a dog is barking
at the early morning silence –
the cold so intense just before dawn
and the world one dark silhouetteto the grey sky
A poem that has some really splendiforous lines!
and rattling runs of consonants, the shallow
and broad bellow of vowels, all that music..."
When my devotions could not pierce
Of course I don’t mean it’s nice in the same way polished hardwood is nice, or even in the way rock tile is nice. But it earns a bit of appreciation, maybe even respect, in the course of a long afternoon including 30 children, a handful of grownups and a small but very excited dog, a sliding glass door left standing open and another door turning on its hinges like a lazy man or an insomniac turning on his bed.
Occasion: Sunday. Date: mid-October, when standing in the shade is frigidus but keeping busy in the sun feels like summer again; the grass still green, and the mud minimal. Menu: a pig roasted in a pit in the ground. Expectations and Appetites: high and rising.
If you haven't noticed yet, things don’t always happen as they should. A pig shot and bled, relieved of its innards which are replaced by 20 pounds of vegetables, can come out of a fire pit only about ½ as raw as it was 24 hours ago. It might look disturbingly close to alive but with a large incision down its middle ready to spill potatoes and carrots, and with a shriveled apple in its mouth. It just might.
It is what we do with these moments that decides what kind of memorable our Sabbath feast is.
Large butcher knives came out. Big hunks of hams (still legged) were stuck in a hot oven. Long loin roasts were laid on the grill outside. Sizzling happened for an hour or more while the men continued to rid the carcass of meat. Children eventually stopped standing at elbow-distance and dispersed to play in the chicken yard and let about half of the hens out, hold babies, whack each other with shovels, and coax a bonfire into life. Everyone pressed cider. Snacks held off the grumpies. The door swung, and boot-, sandal- and converse-covered feet tread and re-tread the way from the patio to the snack table to the kitchen sink to the other door and out again.
By four PM lunch had happened. I'll skip over the fabulous salad generously studded with blue cheese and craisins, the stuffed potatoes, the fruit bowl, the hummus and crackers and cantaloupe, the three scrumptious desserts, and just mention the pork – hot and fresh, a bowl of cubes chopped for the toddlers, plates of thin slices just done, piles of it still there after the dessert platters were reduced to crumb-holders. The kids kept cycling through the kitchen (and the adults weren’t much better), snagging a slice with their fingers and tooling off to the bonfire or the slide or the hay shed again.
It wasn’t until the sweeping-up happened that I wondered if it was possible for what was brought into the house by the feet to equal the amount of meat consumed. During the mopping (somewhere around switching the mop-end out because it was no longer the correct color), I stopped and looked over at the living room, comfortably carpeted in greyish shag, then back at the mop. Linoleum is awesome. No question about it.
Reshaping the World
Those hands can bring cheese-curds from warm milk,
rocking horses out of straight pieces of birch-wood,
and strong yellow notes from a cold brass trumpet.
I have watched those hands
turn silver knitting needles through fine white thread
night by night until it became a lace table covering,
watched them swirl dark lead into smooth lines of cursive,
and fold over tiny fingers just learning to shape letters.
They have patted small backs and given comfort
with the rhythm of rocker and song and heartbeat,
and have brushed back the hair from flu-sticky faces,
administering water and clean rags and pepto-bismol.
I’ve seen those fingers curve around long screwdrivers
and heavy-headed hammers and sharp splitting-mauls
and cross-shaped tire wrenches, wielding them well;
seen them twist and form fishbone braids,
and loaves of dark wheat bread on the table,
and thick fir branches into a Christmas circle.
They’ve been splashed and spattered with blood,
I’ve seen those hands torn by barbed-wire,
seen her knuckles scraped helping Dad under the hood,
seen her skin crack in the dry, bitter cold of January.
I have watched those hands move to marvel and give again
when the newborn baby was set at her side
after a night-long labor, never flinching from the stain
of dark red that is life.
BY GERARD MANLEY
As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell's
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came.
I say móre: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God's eye what in God's eye he is —
Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men's faces.
1Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
2Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:
3Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;
4Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;
5Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's.
6The LORD executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed.
7He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel.
8The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.
9He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever.
10He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
11For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.
12As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
13Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.
14For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.