Poets’ Corner

The Orangery Stairs

By Rainer Maria RilkeTranslated by Susan McLean Versailles Like kings who ultimately merely pace, almost without a goal, unless to show themselves at times in robes of loneliness to those who bow to them on both sides, so, alone between the balustrades, which bowed already from the start, the stairs rise there, deliberately and by…

The Hermit at Midsummer

He’s watched his body age. Its taut topography — Never a greedy eater, always active — Loosens as its man-shaped coastline, worn By battering years, surrenders to the gravity That pulls the tides. If life means to dissolve — Is this the rule? And is the rule commutative: If birth is death, to die is…

Silent Retreat: Grand Coteau, Louisiana

You followed to a stone, And there the trail was lost. (Yvor Winters) With morning prayer fulfilled, I kneel beneath A dampened oak to brush away a wreath Of moss from lichened stone. Two names appear: Deceased from Mother’s side. Nervous, I peer Beyond the lilting rows of buckled tombs Toward the seminary’s waking rooms…

Ordinations

priest, poet Younger than I by nearly forty years, He stands for examination, then kneels, The bishop laying hands upon the head Of one who prays for strength to rise again, Holding on tight to a Bible, the gift A bishop gives to all whom God has called To preach the Word and offer bread…

Taste and See

A tumble of dancing memories, Bits of yesterday on parade, Inscribe their indelible signatures Upon the pink pavement. Those early childhood mornings; That first hunt; Daddy holding the hook, And I the worm; sore fingers Shelling peas picked, plucked Fresh from Grandmother’s garden. Chewing and eating is time well-tasted; Every morsel a moment, bittersweet. Each…

The Secret from the Ground

In childhood’s realm, I found a prize in earth: It was a tiny king and tiny queen Arranged upon a palanquin of gold, My memory insists they’re beautiful, The metal robes, enameled faces, crowns As sparkling-bright as cleft and burnished gems. The soil had changed the iris of an eye, And so the king had…

Ascetic Feats are Not Sainthood

after Jack Gilbert’s ‘The Abnormal is Not Courage’ The Stylites stood on poles for thirty, forty yearsFlagellati scourging themselves with ropes. Bloody and merciless.A magnitude of heroism, of self-denial that allows me no peace.This poem would lessen their feats. QuestionThe piety. Say it’s not beatitude, not at it’s best.They were impossible, and too strife-driven. Too unique.“Whose…

Two Variations on the Theme of Christ’s Bride

            “The Church is in Christ as Eve was in Adam. … God made Eve of the rib of Adam.  And His Church He formeth out of the very flesh, the very wounded and bleeding side of the Son of man.”                                                    — Richard Hooker Creating man from dust, And woman from his side, God…

The Bookcase

For my dead father 1957-2017 Here is artifice: these books, this grain— The knots and notches severed from a pine, The gilded words on every leather spine, The lumber scraped and straightened by your plane. You’d measure twice, cut once, then dull your pain With work and whisky, sharp as turpentine. But here is artifice…

The Restoration

Sweet Peace’s Prince, who once I did exile A traitor to my soul, has now returned To regal Restoration; to beguile My treachery, He chastised me, but spurned Me not; with kinder loving word He yearned To reconcile. My Parliament adjourned, To yield consented, what excuse have I To let my vices turn my soul…

(c) 2019 North American Anglican