At three p.m.
under sky coming to harm
something too red flashes from a limb,
so red it hurts:
against sky coming apart,
against a left-out, twice-soaked shirt,
inflames the profane cathedral
of suburban yard its owner let fall
How rain embarrasses
the half-pruned hedge. The half-mown grass
that sports a tonsure
in reverse shines under the torture.
Rain slicks with praise red shed, red feather.
out of character where
you’re neither the strictly monkish brown thrasher
nor the odd hermit thrush,
you scratch in the underbrush
of faith to see what you can flush:
a grub. A seed.
Eminence not grise
but rouge, from your lipsticked beak
you pass a sowbug
to your mate. You peck at a slug
sliming your path, seeming to beg
To what would you confess
beyond season-to-season unfaithfulness?
There are more divine hours:
a gold-leafed page a mower
rows with a scythe as tall as the tower
that tents aloft
a tiny sky bereft
of cloud, a chapel ceiling left
a lake turned upside down,
filled with an emptiness that’s clean
because it’s cold,
glacial enough to scald
the skin it bathed, the lungs it filled.
On devotion’s last page,
deep in the golden age
of illumination, the hunt’s cortège
has halted at the edge
of the known world, a clearing wedged
in a forest of spears. Red bird the badge
on the huntsman’s tunic,
you’re the splash of crimson lake,
the distant lordship’s flag, the cleric
dog’s bright collar,
its heretic tongue. It slavers
on the bleeding stag. Snarling at prayer
that chases belief,
it licks the offal of grief,
the heart cast aside reward enough.