ST. MOLUAG

This is more or less a work in progress, but today is St. Moluag’s feast, and I couldn’t resist.

 

 

ST MOLUAG

13th century, artist unknown

Tempera on board

He stands in his thick brown robe

before the church that bears his name.

The sky behind is gray with rain,

earth around all unflowered. 

In triumph, he holds up his severed thumb.

 

Move fourteen hundred years along—

Isle of Lewis, the sky still full of gale. 

A dozen people trail into the stony church. 

We have stood the gales a thousand years,

light in the darkness, singing in the wind.

They comfort the stranger, 

laugh at the storm:

We will stand on until the end.

For more about the church:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teampall_Mholuaidh

 

For more about St. Moluag:  http://www.earlybritishkingdoms.com/adversaries/bios/scot_pict/moluag.html

 

 

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June 21st

JUNE 21st

 

They say it’s to be the longest day, but

how shall we know with the sun again

behind clouds thick as oceans. Down 

here like denizens of the deep we’re 

losing our eyes and growing weird 

appendages. Luminous lures spring

from our foreheads. Wind waves dark

fronds of weeds over our heads.

It might as well be the longest night.

We take what nourishment we can.

PLAIN BIRD

PLAIN BIRD

 

I woke like something hatching

from a plain egg—gray, speckled

with brown. Hatched like a plain

bird, a common bird. Some kind

of sparrow, spotted like last year’s

leaves and litter. I started the coffee,

leashed the dog, stepped out

into the rain where a robin—

an ordinary bird—was singing.

CANDLEMAS, VERMONT

CANDLEMAS, VERMONT

Clear out the Christmas clutter

so no one will die this year.

Count the candles and say a prayer.

We don’t bless the herds

or let lambs out in the cold.

It is not spring here.

Half the woodpile should remain;

half the potatoes, half the grain.

Your breath-cloud echoes

a shadow of smoke crossing

and recrossing the snow.

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.

JANUARY THAW

JANUARY THAW

   

The best snow in years,

everything shining,

simple and perfect.

It didn’t last long.

 

And now, rain. Snow to slush

to ice. I tried to tell

my old friend that winter

here is beautiful,

 

tried to get her to go out in the cold

and sun and the diamond air.

She always said that clouds

made her dizzy.

 

She died

on a sunny morning before 

the rain began.

Not a cloud in the sky.

 

 

~Remembering S.M., 10/1927-1/2019

BROWN ANOLES

BROWN ANOLES

1.

Everglades in the dry season. 

Alligator tracks in mudflats, 

mangroves reaching for wet. 

A turtle with a red head, 

one swallowtail kite, 

a brown canal of white birds. 

So much itself, so damaged, 

but when we are gone 

and the river of grass 

overtakes the canals, and the sea 

takes the highrises and malls 

our bones will join the shells

on the shores.

 

2.

Beside a turquoise pool, 

lizards appear and vanish 

on the edges of sight, 

discrete motions, 

particles, not waves. 

Brown anoles, delicate 

and charming wisps of life, 

invasive killers, displacers—

so lovely, so terrible.

 

3.

What could they give me to get me to stay? 

No money, surely, no luxurious house. 

Not here, this land of traffic and noise 

where people live by selling things 

and fixing things and cleaning things—

streets and pools and lawns 

and the tops of the walls built 

to keep out people like themselves 

unless they’re cleaning or fixing.

 

4.

The plastic dinosaurs in the botanical garden 

roar above the calling birds. 

The screen house is filled with butterflies. 

Brown anoles eat them. 

Anoles eat everything—their own babies, 

their own molted skins, their broken tails. 

Anoles everywhere. 

One climbs an orchid stem, 

puffs out his orange throat in threat.

One of the dinosaurs looks like a chicken. 

T. rex’s tiny forelimbs are disturbing. 

It’s hot, too hot even for Florida in May.