Leitmotif

Spanish Moss in Cypress

Leaf aloft and spirit of leaf:

bird notes thread the trees with the gold-tinted

breeze taking off to set the woods aflame

while the swamp lies sleeping in cypress dark,

the knobs like gnomes assembled to keep the spell

so none can wake the frogs and set them glugging.

Down to the mudflats crawling with mud crabs

and fiddlers waving their same languid claws for eons

as it was in Grendel’s day, coming up out of the fen.

Borne by the tide to range the sea plains, pelicans skim

the breaking swells; the sky bends low in a silver streaming

reach to the edge where the last leaf floats and falters.

(from Hungry Foxes)

The Gardener

Tenderly Sown with Thisweb 2

“Tenderly Sown with This” – Oil and charcoal canvas by Carol Bomer

I haven’t talked to you about

a dark space I dug up.

Clods and rocks I can pick out of soil,

blue-veined clay I can nourish;

weeds, yank up; shade, cut back.

But this

 

hollow where no seed is meant to grow

astounds.  I go back to basics,

trusting my hands to find the dirt

as it always was, humid and maternal,

easily worked to hatch seeds,

but this

 

breach of earth voids every breathing

speck so that the spade of my hand

weighs more than death, and the leaves

I touch are stillborn.  Tell me,

must I keep tending, must I

turn this

 

blank into myself and vanish,

or is the hole an entrance

into some new ground that is yet

familiar, tilled and fertile, vast

as my loss, tenderly sown with

this?

See Luke Hankins’ review of this poem in the Christian journal In Touch. 

http://www.intouch.org/magazine/content.aspx?topic=The_Gardener_by_Suzanne_Underwood_Rhodes#.U-d74_ldWSo

Mary Rowlandson’s Removes

“When others are sleeping, mine eyes are weeping.”

In the beginning she was called often  

to relate scenes of blood and flame

from the Tenth of February,

with the goodwives crying to hear her tell

of her dead child turned under barren dirt

and left alone on a hill as she was led away—

and how she marked with scripture each remove:

the camp of snow and fever, the swamp of sinking,

the ground where Praying Tom dangled white fingers,

the begging from fire to fire for any niche against

the frozen black void she read as inscrutable love,

for her mind, forged on Calvin, would not bend

 

though sometimes, in the starved light before day

she would hear the child pleading for water,

pleading from just over the ridge,

and she would cry out, her wits unlashed

as stars withdrew their nets,

but her legs failed her, snared by sleep.

(What mercy, she would later say,

to quell her madcap flight and fiery fate.)

 

This telling of her inmost trial she came to fix in print,

could hardly believe it was she herself there in the tent

slabbering over a horse’s foot snatched from a child

or swearing in the face of pagan taunts–how is it

she secretly craves that state even now as others sleep,

a manic flame to burn the ordered words,

the syntax that gives shape to every scream..

April reading at Virginia Wesleyan College to usher in National Poetry Month

I’ll be reading from Hungry Foxes as well as a selection of new poems and would love to see you there. The reading is at VWC in Norfolk from 11:00-11:50 a.m. in the Pierce Hospitality House in the Batten Center.

Guan Ju (the Seahawk’s Cry)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to know His name

on a bleached day in the water fields

when I’m hungry from the long hike

and there’s nothing but the graveyard of snags

and rushes. I look for the sparrow coining notes

in the grass, for his mere eye as reward for my work

of trudging on in the haze, but he remains hidden,

like ospreys crying in some other sky, coupling

on a dead branch high above the marsh,

the lord then wheeling away,

his mate left shuddering in the cloud.

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