a trilogy of poems

a reflection on Edward Hirsch’s I am going to start living like a mystic


Poem the first

I am going to start living like a monk

Today I am wearing a tunic, a cowl, stockings and shoes
and walking to the church of this world’s flock.

The benches wait like emptied wooden arms about to brace
each body’s always we begin again –  solid, welcoming.

Stained fragments of gospels lighting the timeless presence
are the greeters of the veiled, the entering streets.

I will look at my neighbours as longing for answers
and search in mask worn faces, mirrors of mine.

Some will light in the way of thousands before a candle
and beat upon their breasts beyond the pain for mercy.

The light shall search the souls for cracks
as if the brokenness were consecrated by the cries.

I will unfold the cloak with my tunic bare,
a worker of the field, adorn with the apron of jugum Christi.

Poem the second

I am going to start living like an artist

Today I am coming out of the hiding place
and gluing down the harsh fullness of this moment.

The memories grab like gnarled fingers across the years
each a slant of the past – wild, judging.

Sombre shards of shadows blocking out the glow
are the crossing of a border, an invitation.

I will rummage the hoard as searching for a reason
and unfurl the layers, savings for a perfect day

I breathe will  into hands with eyes watching outward
and pencil onto a blank page questions among desires.

Not daring to think  I shall make the way by walking
as if my whole being is this one moment.

I will go to bed with curtains wide open,
a beholder of light, in plain view of the dark.

Poem the third

I am going to start living like a child

Today I am removing the grown-up lady mask
and wearing the white skirt with ribbons braided through my toes.

The mask left like fifty two and a half scars of harrowed stains
each a deep pierce of a thing – tightly, clinging.

Animals of clouds playing with the grass-tickled body
are the hungers for a life, yet secret.

I will watch the clouds as dreams in the day
and weep the nightmares, wounded hurts of summer.

I will bow on grazed knees with split heels
and finger the earth for the life of the ant.

I shall again look up lolling in light
as if yesterday and the morn were scrubbed by it.

I will whirl the white skirt with hands wide free
a child of light, un scarred by the other self.


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