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Poetry

Thirst (A Poem)

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Another morning and I wake with thirst for the goodness I do not have. I walk out to the pond and all the way God has given us such beautiful lessons. Oh Lord, I was never a quick scholar but sulked and hunched over my books past the hour and the bell: grant me, in your mercy, a little more time. Love for the earth and love for you are having such a long conversation in my heart. Who knows what will finally happen or where I will be sent, yet already I have given a great many things away, expecting to be told to pack nothing, except the prayers by which, with this thirst, I am slowly learning.

Mary Oliver

Stone (A Poem)

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The first book of a poet should be called Stone
Or Evening, expressing in a single word
The modesty of being part of the earth,
The goodness of evening and stone, beyond the poet.

The second book should have a name blushing
With a great generality, such as My Sister Life,
Shocking in its pride, even more in its modesty:
Exasperated, warm, teasing, observant, tender.

Later books should withdraw into a mysterious
Privacy such as we all make for ourselves:
The White Stag or Plantain. Or include the name
Of the place at which his book falls open.

There is also the seventh book, perhaps, the seventh,
And called The Seventh Book because it is not published,
The one that a child thinks he could have written,
Made of the firmest stone and clearest leaves,

That a people keep alive by, keep alive.

D.M. Thomas

A Tree For Me (Leighton Ford)

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When I was in college, and got down and discouraged

I would sometimes climb a tree near where I lived

and sit there a while.

Somehow it helped.

Perhaps it made me feel like a boy again, shinnying up a tree.

It may have been the trunk gave me a sense of being held

by something strong and sturdy.

Perhaps the spreading branches gave me a wider view

or maybe they were a hiding place

if I didn’t want to be seen.

I’m not sure why it helped.

All I know is that I hate it

when one of the great ones

gets cut down.

 

Leighton Ford

Primary Wonder (A Poem)

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In the busyness of these days, this poem of Denise Levertov may call us to pay attention to what matters most (Leighton).

Primary Wonder

Days pass when I forget the mystery.
Problems insoluble and problems offering
their own ignored solutions
jostle for my attention; they crowd its antechamber
along with a host of diversions, my courtiers, wearing
their colored clothes; caps and bells.
And then
once more the quiet mystery
is present to me, the throng’s clamor
recedes: the mystery
that there is anything, anything at all,
let alone cosmos, joy, memory, everything.
rather than void; and that, O Lord,
Creator, Hallowed One, You still,
hour by hour sustain it.

Denise Levertov, The Stream and the Sapphire

Ask Me (A Poem)

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icy river

Some time when the river is ice ask me

mistakes I have made. Ask me whether

what I have done is my life. Others

have come in their slow way into

my thought, and some have tried to help

or to hurt: ask me what difference

their strongest love or hate has made.

 

I will listen to what you say.

You and I can turn and look

at the silent river and wait. We know

the current is there, hidden; and there

are comings and goings from miles away

that hold the stillness exactly before us.

What the river says, that is what I say.

 

William Stafford

A Prayer At The End And Beginning Of The Year (Leighton Ford)

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Lord, give me I pray:

A remembering heart for the things that have happened

An attentive heart to what I have learned

A forgiving heart for what has hurt

A grateful heart for what has blessed

A brave heart for what may be required

An open heart to all that may come

A trusting heart to go forth with You

A loving heart for You and all your creation

A longing heart for the reconciliation of all things.

A willing heart to say “Yes” to what You will.

 

Leighton Ford

The Day We Saw The Fox (Leighton Ford)

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Was it Christmas day?
When we saw the fox
running through the snow?
And, was there one fox or two?
It was a long time ago and
I do not remember everything,
but it was at least near Christmas.

The snow that fell the night before
was deep for our neighborhood.
My ten-year old son and I walked
past the end of our blacktop street,
into a rough patch of grown-over farm land,
past the burned-out house
with the sinister skull and crossbones sign.
We hoped to find some charred boards there
to help make a tree house.

It was then, for the first and last time,
we saw the fox,
half a field beyond us,
slim, wiry, tawny red, fast,
nose to the wind,
high stepping through the deep snow.

Did he sense that he was seen?
That he would be famous?
That the ground where he prowled
would some day be named for him?
And, if he had known, would it
have mattered one whisker
to him?

Leighton Ford
(near Foxcroft)
December 26,2015

Christmas Poem (Mary Oliver)

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nativity

Christmas Poem

Says a country legend told every year:
Go to the barn on Christmas Eve and see
what the creatures do as that long night tips over.
Down on their knees they will go, the fire
of an old memory whistling through their minds!

[So] I went. Wrapped to my eyes against the cold
I creaked back the barn door and peered in.
From town the church bells spilled their midnight music,
and the beasts listened –
yet they lay in their stalls like stone.

Oh the heretics!
Not to remember Bethlehem,
or the star as bright as a sun,
or the child born on a bed of straw!
To know only of the dissolving Now!

Still they drowsed on –
citizens of the pure, the physical world,
they loomed in the dark: powerful
of body, peaceful of mind,
innocent of history.

Brothers! I whispered. It is Christmas!
And you are no heretics, but a miracle,
immaculate still as when you thundered forth
on the morning of creation!
As for Bethlehem, that blazing star

still sailed the dark, but only looked for me.
Caught in its light, listening again to its story,
I curled against some sleepy beast, who nuzzled
my hair as though I were a child, and warmed me
the best it could all night.

 

Mary Oliver

Photo cred: Art Institute of Chicago