Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Beautiful, Stripped Sparrow

in the afternoons,
in the almost empty fields,
i hum the hymns
i used to sing

in church.
they could not tame me,
so they would not keep me,

and how that feels,
the weight of it,
i will not tell
any of you,

not ever.
still, as they promised,
God, once he is in your heart,
is everywhere -

so even here
among the weeds
and the brisk trees.
how long does it take

to hum a hymn? strolling
one or two acres
of the sweetness
of the world,

not counting
a lapse, now and again,
of sheer emptiness.
once a deer

stood quietly at my side.
and sometimes the wind
has touched my cheek
like a spirit.

am i lonely?
the beautiful, striped sparrow,
serenely, on the tallest weed in his kingdom,
also sings without words.

I do not know how to properly analyze another's poem or another's heart. It doesn't seem the proper thing to do. So let me be improper. In this poem I do wonder if Mary regrets her years away from the church. Perhaps instead it is the years away from God, though I could have sworn she saw God everywhere in bird, tree, and flower. Maybe the difference was that her heart had not broken enough to let even more love and light in. Now it has. So she moves beyond words and poem. Her old ways of thinking don't capture the reality of the love, the entirety of it, and the humility of it. I too have walked in those lonely fields, singing "How Great Thou Art" feeling God as well as sparrow and tall grass.

Who or what comes to you in your loneliness?


  1. The poem resonates, and so does your response. I was reading William Everson yesterday, formerly Brother Antoninus, who was talking about religion, that once you've awakened to it, it will be in you forever. I had to think about that, and wasn't convinced, since I have left the church. But today after reading your post, I think maybe it doesn't leave you, but it can evolve into something different, like finding spirituality beneath religion, and in all things.

  2. I wonder if for you being in religion at a younger age contributed in ways you appreciate now? I'm guessing it's just such a mix of benefit/harm/confusion/joy/grace for most of us. How about for you?