Friday, October 10, 2003


Mid-April Lauds: Yolanda

... two birds are on the branch of a tree. One eats the fruit, the other looks at it.
-- Simone Weil

Each morning’s light unveils
the window dresser’s work.
I slow my car to view
the new day’s latest oeuvre

of other women’s clothes --
long, silky, flowing, flecked
with slivers of brightness --
if not the work of God,

at least the work of one
well-schooled in beauty, praise.
Each day I praise his praise
remembering the time

monks welcomed me as Christ,
as Benedict prescribed,
scandal and all, unfit
for sacramental bread.

It rained the whole time, hard.
Rain is a fesitval,
wrote Father Louis, free
and meaningless. It talks

without aspersion. Pools
dotted the Abbey woods.
I was prepared to praise,
but miserere mei

came first, asparges me.
Forgive my trespassing.
I did my best to keep
up with the seasoned flock

who knew it all by heart
my mouth proclaim your praise
O Lord make haste to help.
I bowed when they bowed, sure

all my iniquities
were manifest. And when
Lauds segued into Mass
my stomach growled, unused

to so much liturgy
before coffee and toast.
So I, the welcomed guest,
sat, famished, in the choir

and watched the others eat
the beautiful, bright bread
that joined them into One
praiseworthy body, Christ’s.

And so I praised it all --
the monks, the rain-flecked trees,
the long, dark silken flow
of water eastward, spring’s

new fashions and first fruits,
the rind, the chaff, the board
that spurned my unshriven flesh
as it welcomed my gaze.

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