“Is there no balm in Gilead?” So cries
dour Jeremiah in granite tones.
“There is a balm in Gilead,” replies
a Negro spiritual. The baritone
who chants it, leaning forward on the platform,
looks up, not knowing his voice is a rainstorm
that rinses air to reveal earth’s surprises.
Today, the summer gone, four monarch butterflies,
their breed’s survivors, sucked a flower’s last blooms,
opened their wings, orange-and-black stained glass,
and printed on the sky in zigzag lines,
watch bright things rise: winter moons, the white undersides
of a California condor, once thought doomed,
now flapping wide like the first bird from ashes.
Grace Schulman, “Balm in Gilead” from Days of Wonder: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 2002 by Grace Schulman. Reprinted with the permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved, www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com.
Source: Days of Wonder: New and Selected Poems
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2002)