When the angel with the flaming sword asks:
What have you done that is good?
What have you done that will last?
This is the answer I will give:
I walked long with my husband
on wild uphill footpaths
remembering the names of flowers.
I gave thanks on a cold blue morning
while the new-raised sun
spread my shadow
along the unmarked snow.
I kept rosemary in a white pot
in my kitchen window.
I held my sister’s hand ten days before she died
and we watched the sky turn orange one more time
and listened to a meadowlark
and did not need to speak.
I played the piano for an old man in a nursing-home:
“when the roll is called up yonder,” and he sang.
I counted shooting-stars with my son
one summer midnight
and felt the skin of dew-covered grass
pulling us in safe.
The day before a February storm,
I took in a thin silver stray cat
with eyes the color of green olives.
I sat most of an afternoon in the sun
with my old dog, and later we rolled in leaves.
I trust that these will suffice.
Published in The Witness, December 1998