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Showing posts from December, 2010

Annunciation to the Shepherds

by Lynn Ungar

It's hard not to laugh.
What a picture it makes—
the dumbfounded shepherds
and the stricken sheep,
the cacophony of bleating
and the barking of sheepdogs
dashing and nipping
in a vain attempt at order,
and over it all the angels
trying to make their
shimmery voices heard.
“A who? Wrapped in what?”
the shepherds holler back.
“Where are we supposed to go?”
Poor guys. They wanted directions,
a purpose, some sense of how
the story might end.
And all they got,
all any of us ever get,
was the sound of angels,
somewhere beyond the din,
singing “Glory, Hosanna”
across the improbable night.

It Was Like This: You Were Happy

by Jane Hirshfield
for J.S.



It was like this:
you were happy, then you were sad,
then happy again, then not.

It went on.
You were innocent or you were guilty.
Actions were taken, or not.

At times you spoke, at other times you were silent.
Mostly, it seems you were silent—what could you say?

Now it is almost over.

Like a lover, your life bends down and kisses your life.

It does this not in forgiveness—
between you, there is nothing to forgive—
but with the simple nod of a baker at the moment
he sees the bread is finished with transformation.

Eating, too, is a thing now only for others.

It doesn’t matter what they will make of you
or your days: they will be wrong,
they will miss the wrong woman, miss the wrong man,
all the stories they tell will be tales of their own invention.

Your story was this: you were happy, then you were sad,
you slept, you awakened.
Sometimes you ate roasted chestnuts, sometimes persimmons.

Descended from Dreamers

by Li-Young Lee


And what did I learn, a child, on the Sabbath?
A father is bound to kill his favorite son,
and to his father's cherishing
the beloved answers Yes.

The rest of the week, I hid from my father,
grateful I was not prized. But how deserted
he looked, with no son who pleased him.

And what else did I learn?
That light is born of dark to usurp its ancient rank.
And when a pharaoh dreams of ears of wheat
or grazing cows, it means
he's seen the shapes of the oncoming years.

The rest of my life I wondered: Are there dreams
that help us to understand the past? Or

is any looking back a waste of time,
the whole of it a too finely woven
net of innumerable conditions,
causes, effects, countereffects, impossible
to read? Like rain on the surface of a pond.

Where's Joseph when you need him?
Did Jacob, his father, understand
the dream of the ladder? Or did his enduring
its mystery make him richer?

**

Why are you crying? my father asked
in my dream, in a which we faced each …