Memorial

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Summer

 
He worked nights, leaving as we climbed
the tall narrow staircase to our shared room,
up into the summer heat, the steel fan
in the hallway window
pulling cool, leafy breezes
from our waving trees.

We heard the kitchen screen-door
slap shut, the Pontiac roaring to life,
and watched as slowly he backed down
the dark driveway, and was gone.

And gladly we glided through misty dreams,
flying over tree-tops, baseball games
and cool swimming pools,

when finally the robin’s enthusiasm
and the fresh morning sun
flashing through green leaves
woke us as we heard the car stop
and Dad call cheerfully, “I’m home!”

The air already scented with bacon and coffee,
we flew down the groaning stairs,
two steps at a bound,
and eagerly started another golden
summer’s day.

 

Winter

 
One winter day I did something wrong, and
he got angry and drew his worn leather belt
From the loops of his grey, stained work trousers
To teach me a lesson.
Terrified, I ran upstairs to the big closet
and trembled behind coats and sweaters,
as heavily he came up the steps,
righteous anger ringing in his voice,
tears flowing down my cheeks;

when my big brother, teenage and strong,
called defiance to him and drew him down
into the back yard to fight him
and save me, angered by his

memory of so many other beatings,

determined to stop it now!

But facing his own father

he could not fight back, and

weeping, I watched my dad
pummel my brother’s defenseless face,
far worse than any beating
I would have gotten.

From kitchen window,
I screamed to them both
to stop!

That was when my father saw,
in the kitchen window’s glare
his own father’s angry eyes,
and felt his father’s fists

landing hard on his own face,
and he stopped and

embraced my brother.
 

 

Spring  
Seven years after my father died
my first child, my son, was born in spring,
and in the gleaming, sterile room
I first held him in my arms
as, with his impossibly wide, blue eyes
he calmy gazed right into my raw soul,
and I felt in a sudden rush of warmth,
a timeless love
and at last discovered
the reason for my life.

It was then
I understood my father.

In my son’s face I saw my own
and felt my father’s eyes gazing
in warm wonder on me
and I glowed with
unconditional love for my son.

(30 Jan 2011/11-2017)

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Out of the Silence

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“Out of the silence, Light is spoken.” Thomas Merton

I walk
into the morning.

Birds
drowse
in the dark,

an unseen breeze
strokes my
arms, my bare neck,

as two cranes
over the edge
of the meadow
rise

as the Holy Spirit
moans
in tones
of morning light.

Oblation

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Photo N Federle: Egrets in Suisun Marsh, 2019

Bathe me in light, with warm
water wash, submerge
my submissive head,
my face, my hands,
my wayfaring feet.
Oh, cleanse me!
prepare me
to walk
into your perfect
day.

Aubade: Vale of Tears

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Photo Brian Federle, Sun in Trees, Russian River. April 2016

Morning fog
caressed
my winter tears

as unseen geese
(noisy gaggle)
crossed the opaque sky.

Things well hidden
confuse
my fragile faith,

so when bright, piercing rays
broke through
this lonely vale of tears

I thought it was only the sun
not the golden light,
desire of my fleeting years.

Do Not Gaze into the Night

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“We do not see the Blinding One in black emptiness. He speaks to us gently; His light is one fullness and one Wisdom.” Thomas Merton

Do not gaze into the night.

He is not in the cold wind
tearing at tender leaves.

No, nor does He live
on the mountain of thunder

nor on the crashing shore
where the surf pounds
time on rocks as old
rhythm itself;

You’ll not
find Him
in the piercing cries
of the children
of Syria;

but in your own
brilliant darkness
washed clean
by your tears

there you will find Him:
gentle, and full,
and wise.

In the Territory of the Gerasenes

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Image: Solomon Raj

From deep inside
I heard them,
howling hatred
lashing me with my own hands
gashing the rocky tombs
with my own bloody feet.

Late at night
they cursed and fought
deep inside
my aching skull.

I was their prisoner,
and they were many…

But then I saw Him by the lake
and my soul leapt
even as Legion arose
as with my ragged voice they raged,
“what will you do to us?”

but my soul cried louder,
“Save me!”

Hearing us both,
He drove the dark spirits
from my unclean breast
and into the beasts….poor swine.
Madness cast them
into death’s deep pit….

but I could hear only
silence.

Peace
filled me.

My hand moved
only when I commanded,
and what my eyes saw
I clearly viewed.

The people of the village
fearing a man who could
compel demons,
begged Him to leave.

Blind fools!
If only they could see Him
as I do.

As he was going, I begged to go too
and stay forever in the light
of his face.

But this grace
was not
for me alone…

He told me to go
and proclaim without fear
how His love saved me
from my soul’s dark night,
and led me here,
into paradise.

(18 Feb 2013)

Immanence

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I know you stroll
beyond Andromeda
gazing on Magellanic Clouds,
but I cannot see that far.

I am stardust
to Earth-fallen.

Yet I seek you in the autumn rain,
hear you singing in the evening wind.

Your breath fills my empty lungs,
your smile lights
my darkened eyes,
and my heart overflows
with your sacred blood —

love spilling,
Earth-fulfilling.