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Stirring among the pines. The sapling’s leaves
like oval wings tremble. Between the whoofs
of startled deer, echoing, an echoing clear
creed of some unvanquished mystery—
night-rising crows humbling their caws
below the oaky whoo of the boreal owl.
Below that, what? Threads of wood,
a bed of pine, the needles strewn in love
beside a creek itself so prodigal
we dare not drink before the water’s moved,
trestling over the rocked and craggy bed.


Beloved, says the paper birch, I err
against the very air, and cannot sleep.
For in sleep the foul self inaugurates,
cathedral-like, a plan: to cast pardon
skyward stone on stone, enclosing grace
within the higher arches of the marble dome,
and thence to pray, thence to pray—You are
scaffold, stair step, oak-creak, tarn—I am
never worthy—Your sincerest kneeling knave.


Alas, earnestness and candor fill the trees
and wisdom creaks like floorboards underfoot:
a silence remaining silent until pressed
by wind or weight, and what of discretion’s
wiser counsel, to bear the weight and sigh
so quietly the angels do not hear;
and this is love, my child, remember this—
I speak to you with love; but love, I do not
always speak.


O my most fragrant Lord, you are honeysuckle
my childish hand will not relinquish. Forbear,
this once, your punishment of lilac and rose—
for in this wild and weedlike trickery
I am made meadowless.

(petition & intercession)

For God is only God in the Marsden Rock.
Love permits his echo be dispersed
among the trees, and merely echo, and mere—
what concentrates is silt beneath the creek,
the residue of love after time has closed
its doors and hung the sign—
for we are scorners all and yet may know
that love which tidepools us,
like sea anemone in coastal caves.


The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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