The Sacred in the Quotidian
Poem Ending With A Line By Rumi
White-throated sparrows dart in
and out of the hedgerow,
their sweet long notes rising
above the thicket, the tangle of rosa multiflora,
honeysuckle, and catbriar.
It's late autumn, and everything diminishes.
One winter, a coyote crept down our path, lean and scrawny, following
the ragged thread of his hunger. One year, a red fox. In the summer
of the drought, a black bear. Our white cat was crouched by the daylilies,
thirty feet away. He flattened himself out like an envelope, shook for days.
The pile of scat remained, full of bird seed raided from backyard feeders.
Each time the dog and I passed it, I shivered.
Something wild came by this way. Each of these sightings, only once.
A naturalist told me, these small intersections, our only miracles.
Standing upright, it's hard to see clearly from this height;
we have to get on our hands and knees to find
scarlet pimpernel in the lawn, blue-eyed grass,
or a mourning cloak, the row of cobalt dots hidden
in the black stripes on its tawny wings.
Once, down in the woods, four deer crossed
the road in front of me. It was first frost,
and every blade and twig was etched in white.
Their breath plumes hung in the air long after
they vanished in the underbrush.
The silence was so deep, the only sound, leaf falling on leaf.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.
Winner of the Thomas Merton Poetry of the Sacred competition,
2003, chosen by Stanley Kunitz
Will appear in print in Christianity and Literature.