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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Sunrise

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Photo: Sunrise Orcas Island, 2014.  Brian Federle
“Sunrise is an event that calls forth solemn music in the very depths of man’s nature, as if one’s whole being has to attune itself to the cosmos and praise God for the new day, praise Him in the name of all the creatures that ever were or ever will be.”  Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander
Oh call me softly
in the morning!
With winter’s sun
paint golden
the pale trees.
In deep waters,
in cool ponds brush my
legs, caress
my tender feet.
Your breath flies
through the green
canyons.
With tongues
of flame
 oh, ravish me!

He Does Not Need Your Sacrifice

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“He does not need our sacrifices,
He asks for our selves.”
Thomas Merton, No Man is an Island

Your sacrifice is like
the breath
of the sparrow
in the roiling storm.

It is not needed
but pleasing in its
simplicity.

When you peel away
your small, feathered
soul, when
you stretch your thin
lungs to sing
your hymn of self-
immolation,

remember that
it is not necessary,
no, not at all,

but still pleasing is
the purity of
your song.

(25 Feb 2012)

Faith

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Photo Brian Federle: Overcast in Oregon, 2008

Faith
is seeing my blood
coursing through
shut eyelids

and feeling
blood pushing down
into my arms and legs,

believing
it will soon return
to my darkly
beating heart.

But faith is more than
seeing
or believing.

Faith shines
like the cloistered sun
concealed by thick
autumn clouds.

Faith knows
all my childish lies,
and gently laughs
at my innocence.

Faith stalks me,
deep into my desert
where, trembling,
I wait for her famished arrow.

I love faith;
in her passionate embrace
I fall into my
darkest night.

I fear faith;
slave to her lacerating truth
reluctantly I walk
into her relentless light.

Omnipresence

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Photo: Brian Federle, Pacifica Evening, 2014

In the psalms of night birds
in the bright morning trees,
I hear your song echoing,
overwhelming me.

Always above me,
around and below,
inside me your love’s
a constant glow.

In warm summer’s ocean,
in the soft breath of night
I sway in the rhythm
of  passionate life.

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)

Because We Are Loved

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Photo Brian Federle, San Francisco, 2008

“…we come into being because we are loved and because we are meant to love others.”
Thomas Merton, Honorable Reader: Reflections on My Work

Deep inside
my silent room,
I gaze
at nothing,

as beyond the door
in trees glowing,
green and glistening,
birds sing, spring-
mad, mated,
passion-played!

The sun’s rising,
cradling
Your risen
world,

and I emerge.

(2012, 2017)