Was it for nothing that the blueberry
In the backyard,
Its fruit consumed,
Its year’s growth pruned,
Caught fire one morning?
I took off my shoes, there in the kitchen,
Beholding it aflame.
Is this newfound bioluminescence?
Can a shrub throb with photons
As surely as neon waves,
Plankton, a lampshade jelly,
The lure of a dragonfish,
Alive with luciferin like foxfire
That startles campers awake?
All life must glow, as dewdrops on a fern,
The shimmer of scales
On a fritillary wing,
Mucosal sheen of a passing slug.
If the paper-skin of the deceased
Can be translucent, then a blueberry
Bush may burn yet not be consumed.
Light is not light unless compared to dark,
And so my squinting
At the world, charged as it is,
Is for the dullness of my soul.
What sparkles through the glass
So dimly may be glory, or it may
Be the devil, crouching at the door.
Image: Blueberry bush, my backyard, November 2018.
A sweetgum is silhouetted
against the east cream-sky, leaves like
star-shaped kids’ cereal sogging
In forgotten milk.
Weathered, brittle plastic toys lie
scattered in the backyard glowing
in faint beatific rose light
For a little while.
The house sits quiet and languid
as the summer air outside feels
like a held breath, waiting to burst
Out, then in again.
When the kids wake, the spell will be
broken, but for the time being,
the world itself seems possible,
Open, blank, watching.
Maybe today’s news won’t happen,
and all is cream and roses and
God is standing back of it all
Breathing, “It is good.”
Image: Appalachian Sunrise, Watauga County, N.C., July 2018.
How does one gain the confidence
Of a finch that flies headlong
Into an arborvitae?
A mass of tangled greens that might,
(Or not) hold a nest, eggs, mate, home,
Or at least defray the rain a moment.
Is it instinct that creates faith?
Or memory of the warm twirl of grass
And feathers that gives courage to return?
Whatever credence I enjoy
Passes through me, a current
From fixed point to fixed point.
The heart is no dynamo,
And unworthy of trust.
Belief is a signpost
Pointing only to itself,
A shadow of a shadow
From which no flutter bursts forth.
Image: Snow at Sunset Rock, Lookout Mountain, Tenn., December 2017.
O faith once delivered for all the saints,
Built, against the gates of hell, on truth’s rock.
Secure, sealed by grace from all earthly taints,
Fitting man to don his heavenly smock.
Holy Word of God on high, placed in feeble hands.
Holy church on earth, guarding the good deposit.
Holy Ghost within to guide, convince, and sustain.
With great strength and courage, sent out to all the lands.
Authority and order, to truth apposite.
Full-arrayed in mighty armor, the Devil’s bane.
O! Doubt that cries out from behind restraints,
And bristles at that double-dealing flock.
God, who made the world, does not take complaints?
Stout cathedral doors cannot bear a knock?
Lament opens a chasm, untying stale bands.
Horrors in the name of Christ would likely cause it,
How should “Love thy neighbour” unleash such pride-wrought pain?
Confidence, a casualty of our warring clans.
Our baptized idols spill from the church’s closet
Upending joy, sapping power, shading hope vain.
“O child, I know thy strife.
Take now bread, breath, and life.
O sinner, I have died
For every evil plied.
No one is good,
No one is right,
But I have stood
Despite all blight.
I alone good.
I alone right.”
Photo: Summer Sunset, Chattanooga, Tenn., July 2017.