Poems for Easter by Ken Woodley
I walk across a field to where the frost
has painted shattered glass on the ground.
Summer must have looked in the mirror,
and the reflection broke.
Even the clown trees cry,
dropping their circus leaves.
Soon the whole world will lie dead,
quiet as cotton, and cold.
There is an attic smell in the air.
I wonder if this is how our own winter has been born.
Have we forgotten spring?
I kneel now, touching an ice-covered blade.
The frost melts and turns into dew.
My shadow feels the silent, insistent barking of the sun.
I listen to my storm.
There are no words anymore,
no voice like winter thunder,
no lightning in my dreams.
It has rained for days and the only sound is the river
pulling at the roots of trees,
covering the tracks of animals that came to the bank for food
and the footprints of hunters who followed them.
Black birds look like punctuation marks
as they scrape their wings against the clouds
in search of a sentence the wind rearranged and then blew away
and I wonder about the missing words
and who wrote them.
The river, tumbling over itself,
sounds like sand being brushed off the sky
and I pray for this meaning to make sense.
A soft, distant voice echoes the unspoken
and I look up in time to see the small dark dot of a bird
calling me to follow
just before it disappears,
a final period erased
before the end could be written.
I cry uncontrollably, unashamed of this joyful sorrow.
Tomorrow the river may flood.
So might I.
I shadow myself
in the long puddles from yesterday’s tears.
Bedouin clouds cross their blue desert;
the city loses its grip and the sand takes over,
seagulls singing as if they are deaf.
I will leave no tracks on the beach.
The wind and tide are my safe house.
I have come all this way to watch waves
defect from the sea.
They look like spies coming over from the other side,
breaking cover at the last possible moment,
spreading their secrets on this countertop coast.
I cup a foam cipher in my hands
but it soon disappears
and I am left decoding palms,
my own wrinkles and veins.
Translating myself into this new language.
The sentry noticed something peculiar:
he was surrounded.
Something must have crept up on him during the night.
He dropped to his belly
and wriggled around a large boulder
to see what it was.
He waited fifteen minutes and didn’t see anything.
When members of his platoon woke up
and were not shot as they stood urinating on the ground
the sentry decided he must have been
Still, something seemed strange.
He felt completely surrounded.
It was unearthly.
It was the trees, he told himself later.
Yes, it’s the trees, and the grass
and the sky.
They’re not fighting.
They’re not at war.
And then he wondered:
Can I surrender to peace?
A mirage appears in the desert:
a single dark fin cutting through the dunes of sea-like sand,
rippling straight toward the man
who continues walking over the motionless waves;
a shark torpedoing—as if launched by the earth itself—
at the path those steps are taking,
the man spreading his arms wide and cross-like
in greeting or resignation
to meet the unseen jaws
even as a school of porpoise—
their own finned backs breaking the surface of our disbelief—
swim toward his resurrection,
the heavy steel hooks of fishermen
unable to stop them.
If I could
I would see the sun making sherbet in the sky
and children running along the edge of their lives,
wishing for bowls and spoons,
sand kicking up behind their heels like bullets just missing.
Each second would be a museum
as I look into their eyes
and see Ulysses in the wooden horse,
feel Africa touching Brazil.
Camels sip scotch through straws now,
trying to forget their humps,
but a whippoorwill calls its own name into the twilight
and leaves murmur, quietly praying.
A dream kicks the wall of its womb.
The sky bends.
I feel pregnant with myself.
And then it happens:
A herd of zebra lopes past me,
looking for the mountains of Peru.
“On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”
—John 14: 20