At the Death of a Young Girl

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“We cannot find Him unless we know we need Him.” Thomas Merton

I see its raw fury clawing at her hands,
Kissing her sallow face with lies so perfect on silk pillows,
Concealing raw, gaping wounds inside, the insult
The harsh silence, the enforced peace.
I have seen all this before, this beast, this darkness, this indifference
To waves of anguish washing through the room
As her mother weeps, and her father strokes
Her dark, perfect hair.
I see her, and
I know.

But what am I to say to their terror? These children
Look at me, questioning … after all,
I am their teacher…
But why did she die?, well, asthma… breath denied… but why?

I know this insistent knot, this question piercing my gut,
And I want to hide in silence, but questions will not be denied,
And I know their questions, all of them…
So what am I to say to calm their red, flowing eyes,
These, my poor, dark flowers, piercing me with their tears?

Faith.
Yes, read the book to them…Lazarus found out… faith…
Promises were made, now to be made good.
Yes, faith… what else is there but
Faith?
And so we say the rosary,
And we go on.

(12/15/2012)

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Abscissa of the Soul

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Photo by Brian Federle: Seagull, New Brighton Beach, 2009

“Once we enter again into contact with our own deepest self, with an ordinate self-love that is inseparable from the love of God and of His truth, we discover that all good develops from within us, growing up from the hidden depths of our being according to the concrete and existential norms laid down by the Spirit Who is given us from God. “  Thomas Merton, The New Man

Go beyond
the surface
of things,
deeper
than thin soil
fecund
in the rain,
but dried to dust
by the summer wind.

Dive head first
into the darkness;
have faith
that someone
will catch you,
that you will
spash into
a warm sea,
that a strong hand
will reach out
and save
your life.

If you wait
for proof
you will find only
a solid stone
at your core.

Death
is like that…
facts dash
your brains,
bring you
to the edge
of nothing.

But faith
will lift you
beyond
your limitations,
will bear you up
on golden wings,
make of you
the Royal Ordinate
of time and space
and you will dance
to the music
of the spheres,
as without fear
you reach out
to your Beloved,
the Abscissa
of the soul.

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Author’s Note: In mathematics, ordinate refers to that element of an ordered pair which is plotted on the vertical axis of a two-dimensional Cartesian coordinate system, as opposed to the abscissa.  on a graph, the “x” coordinate rises or falls on the vertical line, but never moves forward. Alone, it is doomed to fail, to fall to its eventual death because things that do not move forward always die. But with its abscissa, it has forward movement… purpose… life… and can continue to soar into the ether. I am not good at math but quite good at seeing things.

to the center

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Photo: Brian Federle, “Night”, 2014

the
beat
steady;
constant hum,
music of days to
night fading; the right note, only
song you know; sum of your days, falling, falling to night.

so
go
to the
center, to
the black place to wait
for Him. Don’t call out in fear for
there’s nobody there but you and He, so silent be

and
hear
how His song
fills your darkness with
light; smile at Him, your familiar
bright friend, and no longer will you fear your emptiness.

(23 Dec 2013)

Fall Leaves

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Photo Brian Federle, Camping March 2010

 

Wind-ripped leaves
cover my yard

severed flesh, leathery
fingers splayed
grip the brick walkway.

Flush winter roses
drop petals,
red shrouds cover
glistening gold veins
sundered
from ravaged trees.

Yet the trees survive.

mimicking death’s
grey angularity
oblivious to the wind,

nude limbs
lean into the howling storm
and dream of June breezes,
singing green afternoons,
the faithful thrush
thrusting new life to flight.

But for now
black clouds gather

the winter wind sings dirges
for these sacrificial leaves
nourishing the famished earth.

(11/18/2010)
re-post 10/25/2017

Moss Landing

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Framed in darkness
Like birds in deep silence
The sky and sea breathe
In steel blue longing
Remembering the dying sun
And the cries of gulls diving.

On insubstantial sand
We watch an impossible ship
Moving and not moving
Like a silent cloud at the edge of the world.

I can see no men aboard
Although I know they are there.
I know they are in steel rooms,
Warmed by twisting turbines,
Softly cursing,
Listening to the night.

The sand moves under us
As we walk to the sea.
Our steps change forever the earth.
The sea changes forever,
We change the sky with our breath
And wind-blown sand covers our feet.

Yet we move,
And for a while we walk
Away from the sea.

The sea will change.
The sky will change.
They will wait.
There’s no hurry.

                                                 In memoriam: Arthur Federle, 1978, Brian Federle, 2017

(1979. 2017)

Continuum

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Photo: Brian Federle, Salton Sea, Dec. 2016

My breath rises
to the edge of space
and pauses
at the nexus of perfection,

then falls,
driven by waves of fire,
by strong hands guided
through dust and rain,
through ice, through
the shining
vortex

to my upturned face
where a single drop dies
and fills me with
the storm’s desire.

(posted 2011: re-posted 8/2017)

Light, directly infused…

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Photo Brian Federle, “Sunset at Carlsbad,” Jan. 2016

“Faith reaches the intellect not through the senses
but in a light directly infused by God.” Thomas Merton

Rising from the sea
death’s veil
overwhelms me.

Brief day fails,
fills the sky
with starry sail,

wandering planets,
moonbeams
cold and bright –

holy spirit
fills faithful night.

(2012: Revised 2017)