Potential

The preacher enters the pulpit.
The waiting watchful befriend her like a cloak.
In the round silence of those before her
she breathes — in, out, in.

But this moment!
Perfect communion lies within her,
just as the infinite bowl of the sky and
the sea — arms open — enjoy their widest horizon.

A poet lays down a line, scrubs it out,
tugs a thread of memory up to the light,
tests its tensile strength, rappelling down
the sheer face of terror — almost delight.

On the sea cliff a diver waits, counting the waves,
marking his breaths, holding this moment —
all heart and bones — as near to
prayer as the cry of a newborn.

Each one
enters Creation
innocent of the abyss,
the leap itself containing all.

Counting Miracles

Let us be true, truly be,
let us be. That was the refrain
I sang under the moon I lost
some months ago.

There it was at last, low above
the trees, the trees black and still,
the birds silent, only a car passing
on the road behind me, not staying.

I know this moment contains worlds,
universes even, possibilities unheard of.
This moment, then the next, and the one
after that; I will count them out carefully.

Thoreau says, "All change is a miracle
to contemplate, a miracle happening
every moment."

The asters I planted on faith in April
have bloomed so bluely, so proudly,
so briefly. They are sighing now as
they lie down in this October morning.

I am counting now — No! I have
ceased counting — to take this moment
as itself complete, so full as the moon,
which I had lost, now waning behind me.

The News

I am reading poetry these days
more than I read the news.
I gather armfuls of poetry: Whitman,
Wordsworth, Byron, Shelley, Keats,
Yeats — Whitman again.

I scoop up handfuls of Glück and
Rilke; they must be pored over,
examined in the hand, turned over
like seeds and nuts in the palm, rationed
carefully.

I take a pinch of Emily: a little bit seasons
the stew. She is the salt that brings
up the flavor of these potato days and
the sigh of attention to the diamond ground
upon which
I walk.

There is Milosz and Szymborska and
Herbert — both Zbigniew and George —
Heaney, Hill, and Kavanaugh, Neruda,
Bishop, Olds, Harjo, and Frost. Always
Frost, even in summer.

Collins, Stafford, Kooser, Hirshfield,
Basho, Beowulf, Sidney, and Howe.
Shakespeare then and again and now;
Larkin, Levertov, Wiman, and Brooks.

Am I Donne (not yet) or Job or the Psalmist?
St. Paul on a good day, St. John's Chapter One,
Isaiah, Jeremiah, or Solomon's Song? Or
Morrison, Clifton, Hayden or Hughes?

I am reading poetry more than the news,
for the news does not change; it's not new.
But the poetry I read can be read more than once,
gathered in armfuls, held in the hand,
salted and savored and sung on demand,
and carried like water in these desert lands.