Oh Day of Happy Memory
In January—Christmas a month past,
the Doctor had two tickets to a show.
“Call Doc, the pains are close at last.
I need him here, Frank; ask him not to go.”
“So long a time since we’ve been out,”
said Doc’s wife, forlorn and disappointed,
“but she’s our friend and there’s no doubt
she waits abed, tormented and elated.”
Doc grabbed his black bag and walked to the house
where Celie’s brow was moist, her hair awry.
He rolled his sleeves, probed and guessed:
“In no time at all a baby will cry.”
With a whimper I was handed to Frank,
whose eyes filled with tears in spite of his smile.
He kissed Celie with thanks; my face was a blank.
I snuggled with Celie who slept all the while.
One day at a time, the sages opine.
Ten thousand days since the cold winter night
make me want to go back to that precious time.
I’d come forth with a smile and do everything right.
Out of the Woods
In the distance in the dark
a dog barks.
Not a yap or a yelp
but a baritone bark,
as if he’s down the road a piece,
near the woods on a farm,
though his deep bark carries
through the sometime silence
of traffic-tangled streets where I live—
a bark in the night,
like the whistle of a faraway train.
Chapel Limbo at Eden Hall
My friend unlocks the heavy wooden door,
a shaft of light pierces the desolate dark,
a puff of air freshens musty silence.
A chapel, French style—bulky wooden pews
with broad unpadded kneelers.
Now no Kyries for daily Mass—only
dust and boarded up stained glass windows.
Altar barren, Gregorian chant mute.
I bow my head, sorry I have come.
We walk on the tile floor, footprints in dust.
Nun’s frenchy narrow stalls line the walls.
The marble floor apse is missing the rail,
the brass communion rail with ethereal tones
now fades and blends with angel choirs.
I step boldly into the sacristy
where priests vested in fiddleback chasubles
off limits to us student girls.
I am free to roam as if backstage at the Met
on a dim day after the last curtain.
My school days seem that remote, the school leveled
to a rolling park where lusty cheers
from soccer fields invade the reverence
of the brownstone place rooted in holiness.
The vandals come after dark:
a fire here, graffiti there. Hip-high weeds
cry out for the Irish gardeners.
The chapel looms, like the Mariner’s ship,
its vaulted ceiling an upturned hull,
a ghostly presence in a corner of the park.
Outside, inside, an unresponsive limbo
where lived the grandeur and splendor
of the old school’s heart.
St. Dominic’s Tower
A church bell tolls.
And the trees ring
this worship day.
Each maple, elm and birch
is a steeple. The park is alive
with their bells
encircling a field
like the surround sound
of a roundelay.
The deep, vast woods
summon us to adoration.
The tolling echoes
and my heart is lifted
through the lacey trees.
I wished to see His greatness,
to be delivered from my pettiness.
I yearned for dazzling light,
trumpets in the night.
I needed to be absorbed
up and away from tedium’s cord
that held me bound lateral
wearing out my radials.
I wanted to plumb His depth,
to soar His starry height.
Yet, He’s in the whispering wind,
in a thought too small to tend.
I put aside my wish,
slid pastry on a dish,
sat in the back row
and watched a kindergarten show.
They did a square dance and a minuet
while a rainbow of colored T-shirts sat
waiting to do their third grade chant
and a Native-American rain dance.
It was a peaceful awareness
to see Him in the gentleness,
to see His descent in the children.
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