The Housefly

There are bits of this world
I have not yet learned to love
(Let’s not speak of war
and rape and the garbage dumps
like writhing quilts spread over
fields of oceans.)
I mean even the wild citizens
of this earth, true to their
primordial calling,
who follow the vision
imprinted deep in their cells.

The simple housefly, say,
whose only harm is the tentative
way it lands on my cheek,
my ankle, while I rest
in the afternoon sun.
The feel of its pinprick
feet, tender on my skin,
draws unwarranted curses,
a childish contempt.

Dear sister fly, forgive
my petty disdain of your wise
and nimble nature.
Small harbinger of rain,
you who tread so lightly
as you weave through your
existence, I am ashamed
of my narrow, brutish love.

A Fine Beauty

Is there a finer beauty
than the morning sun
glancing off the turquoise
shimmer of the sunbird,
the dark yellow of its belly,
the perfect lines drawn by
feathers growing in careful
patterns from the recesses of
its small body?
Where do the feathers of a
sunbird acquire those startling
colours? Do they slide through
pigment arranged in tidy
sections in translucent
skin,or form in rainbow pools
gathered deep in the crevices
between avian organs?
I remember being a child at
a desk, counting out nickels,
memorizing prepositions,
but my education strikes me
as shoddy, devoid as it was
of the magical science of
tiny bird bodies
sprouting feathery
emerald
wings.

On the Feast Day of St. Francis (October 4)

Francis preached to the
birds, assumed they
understood his pious
convictions, felt enough
camaraderie with that
kingdom of creatures that
he stopped to include
them in his reverie, his
grand ideals.
What was it Francis
felt pressing in his peasant
heart that he couldn’t help
but share it with the
pigeons pecking
in the dust of Assissi’s
grey stones?
What truth have I
ever grasped that could
improve upon the
understanding of the
rufous sparrow,
watching me sidelong
from its branch,
content in its
leafy theology?

the river

i remember
grass pressed into knees
green and compliant
the empty november air
that turned our voices into water
our movements into lines
drawn across blank skies
a drunken reticle
incapable of focus.
you wrapped that peasant quilt
around us
promised it would hide us
guide us
through a labyrinth of limbs
shivering inside the watching winter
reverberating with the remembrance
of tenuous touch.
the wind
that meddling melding
alchemist of prairie
coaxed us closer
forced space into nonspace
breath into agate stone.
this was our fusing
fumbling incarnation
reincarnation of fusions
fostered centuries ago
by the smell of slate grey rivers
slowing
into
ice.

(Memories of a long ago poetry night. This poem had never yet found its way to this site…)