THE DELPHIC ORACLE

THE DELPHIC ORACLE

~Mary Pratt, (Pre Raphaelite Sisterhood, 1848)

 

Smoke rises before the girl 

seated on her three-legged stool. 

Behind her, the cave mouth

shades into a purple dark.

 

The supplicant stands

like a pillar, her robes

still as sculpture.

Keep looking.

 

Smoke mingles

with thin cloud in the pale

sky, shaping horses.

Keep looking.

 

The supplicant’s arms are rising

toward the heavens.  Listen.

Between the sky and the cave,

the oracle has begun to speak.

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WRITING ABOUT JESUS

WRITING ABOUT JESUS

~feast of the Annunciation

 

The rules don’t measure.

The untouchable saves you

and you must do the same.

Thieves and beggars at the banquet, 

obedient sheep abandoned to wolves, 

so much wasted seed.

 

Today the sun is warm on my back.

I’m waiting at the café, for my friend.

 

Star in the East

adorns the horizon,

guides around the globe to everywhere

the redeemer is laid.

That which was before the beginning,

contains the whole,

there is nothing drifting sideways 

at some unspeakable

angle, far from the fields

of gravity and love.

 

Hail Mary, 

Fear not.

Everything

matters.

 

A woman talking on her phone in the corridor 

makes a silhouette against the light.

 

The firstborn 

made flesh.

The only story 

is ours.

 

Creeds lean away, defining.

One substance—what else?

One essence, one congealment.

Do you understand?

m=E divided by the constant

through whom we live and move.

 

The sun is warm on my back and 

I must shade the page to see. 

For the time being, 

there is nothing between me and the light.

Ash Wednesday: Trusting in the Sun

Ash Wednesday: Trusting in the Sun

 

It will return. It is

returning. Six o’clock

and already the winter candle

light is not a sharp

circle on the table.

 

It was a tough

winter, a tough fall.

Four dead, your own

new scars, the surprise

of seventy years.

 

You’re needing morning

bird song—a robin,

a cardinal. You’re needing

good news. And today

the reversal—just as the sun

 

is warming through the wind,

as the maples are giving 

their juice, your old

religion makes it Lent.

Well, all right.

 

If the meat is gone,

you might as well fast.

Someday again, days

will be longer than nights.

You just have to wait.

WHAT IT’S ABOUT

WHAT IT’S ABOUT

It’s about being lost.

Really, really lost.

Squandering half the family fortune

and eating pig food and crawling home 

without even a name to call your own.

And it’s about saving and working hard

and being responsible

and no one notices or cares.

It’s about getting paid the same.

It’s about being meek and poor

and hungry and sad.

It’s about being left for dead

then rescued by someone

you’d cross the street

or maybe the ocean

to avoid.

It’s about a wedding reception

with all the wrong sorts of people

but you’re there, too.

What’s that about?

 

It certainly isn’t about the rules.

It isn’t about going to church

and potlucks and biblestudies

and committee meetings.

It isn’t about being good

so you’ll go to heaven when

you die. It’s not

about saving 

your little 

soul.

 

It’s about letting everything go—

every flying buttress and rose window,

every pipe organ and bible

and prayer book and linen cloth

and silver cup—

every attitude,

every certainty,

everything you think you know—

in order to buy

one pearl.

 

It’s about bread and salt.

It’s about a lighted lamp.

WHY OUR GODS

 

WHY OUR GODS

I think it’s the weather: the snow, the wind,

the cold. To be small targets, all winter

we wear our shoulders under our ears. Plans

made on sunny days come to naught when snow

fills the roads and paths and knocks out power

lines and we must stay and shovel and feed

the stoves. Our houses get smaller. Husbands

and cats take up more spaces. Complaining

dogs follow us from room to room. This is

why our gods are relentless, slow to forgive,

determining, unpredictable, hard.

Their will is as slippery as the ice.

They don’t approve when we, in our clumsy

boots and heavy jackets, try to dance.

THE FEAST OF ST. JOHN

THE FEAST OF ST. JOHN

 

 

. . . which I will not keep

for the evangelist.

Not for the eagle looking 

down on the world

his Jesus saves with secrets.

My Jesus looks me in the eye.

He doesn’t tell me who he is,

over and over again.

He tells me who I am,

as he told, I like to think,

that sweet boy—

that fisherman who couldn’t

write in Greek—

who left his father’s boat

and followed him.