Poems For Holy Week by Ken Woodley
AFTER THE BOMB
The wind exterminates annihilation,
checks its pulse with a dried leaf or two
and climbs a hill behind the barn.
The barbed wire doesn’t stop it.
The cows couldn’t chew it.
The wind plays the sound of crickets eating silence
and there is something else
along the wide black hearth,
tugging back at last syllables,
inventing the new language;
sheep will clothe themselves.
The wind stretches,
yawns and lifts a feather for examination,
blowing it against a sky
that cannot keep it.
The wind blows it north for the summer,
south for the winter,
looking for a season that fits.
The wind blows inside out,
climbs a mountain and falls off.
The hurricane bends everything to its knees.
raise my hand
to keep the sun
that I am
There are no stars,
just hearts beating in the darkness.
twigs snap underfoot.
Wild beasts scream their way
into human silence
and hide among the eaves, waiting.
The armies sit in darkness,
looking for some braille
to tell them this is just
a really black night.
Soldiers smell the enemy coming.
They feel the enemy touching,
the enemy panting,
The heartbeats quicken
and sound like Morse code,
somebody sending signals
from behind enemy lines.
The arms of the enemy encase them.
The soldiers bite back.
The pain is wet and hot.
Their hearts suddenly sound
like a pantomime.
They taste their own body,
their own blood,
wondering whose skin it is
who they used to be.
THE SERPENT (For Judas)
but keep crawling
on my belly anyway,
there could be something worse
than turning yourself
and finding the end
IN THE CATACOMBS (For Mary Magdalene)
My hands find the ghosts of wind and water
which haunt the world with their smoothness.
Such soft fossils in the stone;
my fingers feel like they are touching themselves.
I reach for an indentation and find my broken-mirror reflection.
I pick up one of my eyes along with some of the ceiling.
They become my nose and a piece of lip.
My hair and a look of pain
stick in my fingers and I hurt and bleed.
I am just as much a grave in this room as I am me.
But I remember opening my eyes for the first time.
Buildings were not broken by the colors.
Neither were people.
Children ran through fields with their parents
who were also children,
picking flowers that did not burn them.
We spoke sky.
We spoke clouds.
Our accent came from everywhere
and we sang songs that made the elephants dance.
The world grew round and we rolled it to each other.
Everything kept growing.
I remember the sound of the first cannons.
It’s mice in the attic, we said, eating cheese.
We’ll get traps when we go to town in the morning.
I remember footprints in the snow.
I remember following.
It seemed like a prayer.
WAITING ON THE FALL-OUT
On the edge of everything
I catch a taxi to the harbor
where the boats lay still
and the gulls don’t speak.
Even the pier
holds tightly to its splinters,
giving nothing away
but my own drumbeat steps
as the mist tries me on for size.
I sit along the end of this half-bridge
and wait for anything else,
hoping the stars
rule out the total winter.
A ricochet of light
and one has become like us.
There is no splashing,
and the echo of my own slow dripping.
I stop remembering now,
only listen to the resonance.
Lose this definition.