Green Hills Literary Lantern

Four Poems

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

St. Paul Evangelische Kirche, 1867, Little Bay Road

 

 

Some say a split over doctrine brought forth

this simple church, 42 by 36

feet, one large room with pews for faithful, two

smaller areas beneath a choir loft.

Three tall pointed, plain glass windows per

side let in light and air; native limestone

orms thick walls.  It's stood amid white oaks

since 1867, housed its flocks

over a century.  Now it sits empty.

Couples have rented it for their weddings,

a few heirs have sent their beloved dead

forth from this quiet place.  Once each year

our historical society hosts

its Musikfest.  This year, a bell choir's tones

spill out into thick timber, a local

tenor regales us with big band ballads,

a lady taps dulcimer strings for charming

ancient melodies.  As usual, we

finish by singing, belt out "Edelweiss,"

"St. Francis' Prayer."  This is mere stone shell,

those people who were the church long gone,

we who yearly visit, crowd these pews, just ghosts.

 

 

That Mary

 

 

 

Such questions are beyond me, oh by far,

yet  I worry a bit in my small way

about Mary, rewarded with heavenly

bliss- this is incredibly impossible-

I haven't a clue: sure, she's far away

from even sweeter than the Mormon

Tabernacle Choir and with no need for

golden slippers.  And yet, presumably,

at beck and call of lisped prayers daily

by the billions.  For all I know, this murmur

may be sweet reward to her, like a harpist

surrounded by perfect wind strokes, ever

so lightly plucking heaven-pitched strings.

 

Dawn's light, brighter than saffron on eastern hills

filters through open door with waking sounds-

camels' coughing, distance- sweetened donkey's bray.

Nearby a ring-necked dove mourns in the palms.

Hakim's sheep and goat herd bleat, tinkle bells.

 

I hope once in a while she's given a break

from pomp, finds herself barefoot in a rough robe

in a dark, low-beamed kitchen.  A smoking fire

lights up a hearth and she's making pita

bread for Jesus and Joseph and the Father.

The Spirit airs the room when it's time to eat.

Maybe she's broiling fish on the coals, too.

 

View from Room 102, HADH

 

Nurses are to transfuse two units of

blood slowly, three to four hours

each, so I lie waiting on my inclined bed

in Room 102.  They perform their tasks,

checks, tests and soon I am alone, looking

out through Venetian blinds from this newly

re-decorated treatment space.  Shady slats

and vertical supports transform my window

into potential music staves. Across

near trees and hills, vultures wind-dance fast air

above Frene Valley.  New blood drips soundlessly

into my vein.  Not a music reader I

cannot read any notes of the score

created unknowingly by black dancers,

can only remember real sounds of wind-

shivered feathers from other ancient flyers.

Their kind of flying, ragged pipe of birds,

is sheer play.  They find up-thrusting thermals,

repeat over and over patterns: climbing

turns, long, slant-wing powerglides to bank

again, anew into air push, rise up.

All their dancing, artless skywriting surrender

to the wind, is spontaneous, free.

I get new blood, watch birds until dark.

Performance done, they vanish into night.

 

 

Lucky Tom

 

 

Except that we haven't yet had frost,

this day has bloomed like Indian summer;

sassafras, already turned, glows fire

and midges dance in late afternoon light.

Thanks to record rains our lawn, fields

gleam green- stark contrast to last year's dust.

I am enjoying, vampire like, someone

else's blood from yesterday's transfusion.

I've just finished applying a plastic sheet

for a shower I'm making, hope soon

to complete it, at least once sluice my sweat

and sins away, although both cling fast.

This year's garden is done, except for turnips,

but the rest needs composting or fire,

stakes and trelisses stored, weeds mowed, turned.

I admit it: I didn't write that novel,

didn't luck into that lyric I've dreamed of,

didn't win the lottery, but then never

played, think still I've won.  I'm very lucky.

 

 

Jim Thomas, whom we honor with the dedication of this, our twentieth anniversary volume, was a beloved scholar, teacher, artist and friend, and for many years a mainstay of GHLL. He will be sorely missed.