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The cloak of the saint was filled with roses

The cloak of the saint rose above the city

The cloak of the saint was thrown over the back of a chair
it slowly filled with a human form
it was filled with the sound of wind

It floated down the mountainside
sheep it passed turned golden

Rocks glowed in its light as it flowed across their surfaces

It sat at the table of the poor and broke bread

It spoke to a lone man on a rooftop or mountaintop
a lone woman standing by a stream or sink
a child singing to himself in the bath
a child playing by herself in a corner filled with bric-a-brac

Or at sea in a lifeboat where a single sailor lies dying
or a young scholar weeping for joy in a lamp-lit mosque in the snow

Or over the silent morning where the birds are
just now waking up in the trees


The saint’s cloak is not made of threads interwoven
but of silences between words and then
words like pearls lifted and suspended in the air between silences

The saint’s cloak covers windows and doors
our entrances and exits and all the indecisive or decisive
moments in between

Along rolling green hillsides just as the sun first hits them at dawn
and as the sun pulls its light into darkness at dusk

the cloak unfurls and is not light of sun nor dark of night
and maybe it’s closer to starlight in its distant and elegant splendor
though it’s as near as the web of skin between
forefinger and thumb or the
raw inner flesh of our eyelids in a biting wind
or in a corridor of mirrors when an eyelash is
caught in them

Or alone on a beach where the cloak rises and
falls with the lull of waves and the
sound of a bell buoy ringing invisibly in the mist

If it were spread out against the sky its
words could be read more easily

Its parchment its scroll-like unrolling across the entire
length and breadth of our lives in its impeccable grammar
its perfect punctuation its start of sentence and
single point final

The saint’s cloak drifting neither upward nor downward
but drifting all the same

From one end of us to the other

Through whose fabric towers of ice arise

The living tremor of an uncommon surrender



This poem was selected for The Best Spiritual Writing 2009.

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

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