When I Enter the House of Awe

Yesterday I opened that oddly large book of poetry, and I closed it; opened and closed it; opened and closed it; until eventually I could find my place in the pages. It had been months since I had last opened it, maybe that’s why it took me so long to rest in its goodness, in what I came to love last spring (Susanna Childress). I chose poems at random and read them out loud, fingering the words with my mouth and letting the syllables slow and resound, the way Childress reads them. I think that’s what struck me most about her last spring, about her works – the slow, whole way she reads, spacing out the whole word, circling the wholeness with her tongue, giving each word its place – and the entirety of the wholeness (her poems) struck me as beautiful. When I read her poems out loud yesterday, the beautiful reading way struck me again. I fingered the words of “Architecture of an Apology” with my mouth, “In Vancouver, You Forgive the American,” “Where Wings Could Be,” and my eyes swelled with tears at each reading, not because the words or the images were so strikingly beautiful but because I remembered the way she had refocused my attention on the gift of each word’s wholeness, on a new way to read out loud, on the reverence appropriate and due each spoken syllable; I remembered the way I’ve come to adore Jack Gilbert, Pablo Neruda, the way I’ve come to find good thoughts valuable and precious (whether I agree with them or not); I remembered the way I’ve been taught to love these words and these efforts at profundity and truth; and I smiled slowly and with fullness of spirit as I realized the title of the book I held: Entering the House of Awe. Of course. Last year, I came in contact with real awe, and I’ve lived almost every day since feeling full to the brim with it, with astonishment at truth and at the smallest bit of beauty. I read the title again: Entering the House of Awe. And I remembered: No matter the pain or retrospect, having loved hard is always holy.

Click here to listen to Childress read.

“Where Wings Could Be”

Preserve not, want not. If the tumbleweed of faith
kept its spore, as my ear its shape,

rumpled evenly as a nest, no wind would send me
reeling. Send me reeling. What’s left of the glass pitcher

from Denmark, a wedding present four months old,
is the handle. The rest sounded resolutely, shards swept

singing to the dustpan, his shoulders keeping
time with the broom, me in the doorway, stepped back

to lament elbow, glass, one movement’s vacuum
of grace knocking all beauty to the floor.   What I need

from life: a few loves brilliant with return. Bundle
of papers, music, each pocked round of opportunity/  mistake/

accolade/  what have you, a proof, here and there, knowing
the nothingness of knowing: the self a dim understanding,

those great hollow spots where wings could be: brutal,
stunning flight.          O Daedalus. O inescapable

God. Air, lungs, legs and belly, holy holy torpid heat:
Holy tubes, holy rigor. My father stretched on the harness

his therapist swears will soothe seven bulging, two ruptured
discs, my father who answers How are you feeling with

With my hands, who has slept on the floor
for years holy     disc holy nest    sac toponym and cup.

Saucer. Diastole. Sweet systole. One holiness spread
across all faces, one stroke from the fingers

of truth: what of the body is left to sing? Maybe
feathers. Maybe not. Even they are gift – hen, pheasant,

mallard. I said, send me reeling. México for the preacher
electrocuted during baptismal. California

for the baby girl suffocated by a fallen window fan,
Oklahoma’s mother of four run over right in front

of her kids and even the man who strung himself up in BC
and his wife returning a box of ashes to South Africa,

Lord. What I need from time to time: not news;
reverie. Should I beg my daily bread or sun and shield?     Once

small as a fawn I slept in the curl of my father’s arm,
held in that holding pattern we know as love and soon

I was grown and soon a mandolin and soon opalesque,
a handle unattached from its cylinder and spout, desolate

with what I couldn’t name, a particular ache I sent on up
to Jesus for our set-on-a-spindle globe, for the undone,

the millions. For the breaching heads of Calla lilies
fallen from their stems in my father’s back. Send me,

send me. In winter all but basil in the nook of the great oak
will yield. In spring the knots of faith trip up the spine

into the neck, shoot straight to that patchwork of nervous gray
matter and what brain can hold, dear God, such soft       pelt.


January 15 Joy Dare: A Gift Worn, Given Away, and Shared
Worn: My favorite mustard yellow/navy combination
Given Away: A hard-boiled egg made in my fun little gadget
Shared: My best friend!!! She is back in town for the rest of the month but is kindly being shared for the next few nights to stay with me.

PS. A giant thank you that I forgot to say yesterday: Powerfully Quiet hit over 1,000 views this weekend!!! Thank you, wonderful readers!

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