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Do these leaves know as much as I?

Image
by Zenshin Philip Whalen
for Adin, 4/11/11


Do these leaves know as much as I?
They must
Know that and more—or less. We
See each other through the glass.
We bless each other
Desk and tree, a fallen world of holiness.
Blessed Francis taught the birds
All the animals understood.
Who will
Pray for us who are less than stone or wood?

Report of the Fourteenth Subcommittee on Convening a Discussion Group

by Marge Piercy


This is how things begin to tilt into change,
how coalitions are knit from strands of hair,
of barbed wire, twine, knitting wool and gut,
how people ease into action arguing each inch,
but the tedium of it is watching granite erode.
Let us meet to debate meeting, the day, the time,
the length. Let us discuss whether we will sit
or stand or hang from the ceiling or take it lying
down. Let us argue about the chair and the table and
the chairperson and the motion to table the chair.

In the room fog gathers under the ceiling and thickens
in every brain. Let us form committees spawning
subcommittees all laying little moldy eggs of reports.
Under the grey fluorescent sun they will crack
to hatch scuttling lizards of more committees.

The Pliocene gathers momentum and fades.
the earth tilts on its axis. More and more snows
fall each winter and less melt each spring.
A new ice age is pressing the glaciers forward
over the floor. We watch the wall of ice advance.

We are evolvin…

Burning the Old Year

by Naomi Shihab Nye


Letters swallow themselves in seconds.
Notes friends tied to the doorknob,
transparent scarlet paper,
sizzle like moth wings,
marry the air.

So much of any year is flammable,
lists of vegetables, partial poems.
Orange swirling flame of days,
so little is a stone.

Where there was something and suddenly isn’t,
an absence shouts, celebrates, leaves a space.
I begin again with the smallest numbers.

Quick dance, shuffle of losses and leaves,
only the things I didn’t do
crackle after the blazing dies.

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 …

Faint Music

by Robert Hass


Maybe you need to write a poem about grace.
When everything broken is broken,
and everything dead is dead,
and the hero has looked into the mirror with complete contempt,
and the heroine has studied her face and its defects
remorselessly, and the pain they thought might,
as a token of their earnestness, release them from themselves
has lost its novelty and not released them,
and they have begun to think, kindly and distantly,
watching the others go about their days--
likes and dislikes, reasons, habits, fears--
that self-love is the one weedy stalk
of every human blossoming, and understood,
therefore, why they had been, all their lives,
in such a fury to defend it, and that no one--
except some almost inconceivable saint in his pool
of poverty and silence--can escape this violent, automatic
life's companion ever, maybe then, ordinary light,
faint music under things, a hovering like grace appears.

As in the story a friend once told about the time
he tried to kill hi…