A child is standing in a gilded church
staring at the backs of strangers
all crowded together
in heavy winter coats,
hands by their sides,
until they make the sign of peace.

She silently mouths the words
to the hymn she knows by heart,
but is too shy to sing aloud–
We hold a treasure, not made of gold…
She is thinking about school,
about a girl in her class
with bright, orange-gold hair.

“It’s red, not orange!” the girl snaps,
and shows off her new necklace
from Hawaii. And the child wonders
why she can’t have hair like that–
like the color of volcanic fire.
Why is her own hair so brown?

The voice behind her is a tenor.
The priest is wearing purple–
the color of royalty.
The gold felt banner by the altar reads: Celebrate!
Her hair is brown like the pews,
like the soft, leather kneelers.

Earthen vessels…She mouths the words.
Her hair is the color of earth,
the color of the ceramic jug
in the corner of the basement
covered with dust and daddy long legs.
Wealth untold…the hymn says.

“I am not worthy,” speaks the congregation in unison.
And for one moment, the child feels worthy.
Because none are worthy.
And she joins in this time, on cue,
“But only say the word…
and I shall be healed.”

[Communion, from The Hours of Catherine Cleves]
{Linking to dVerse for open link night. The final words of this (autobiographical) poem are a bit strange, unless you’re a Catholic. Here is a good explanation. Here is a link to the hymn, Earthen Vessels: https://youtu.be/IAZhIw49ULc }

Morning Ghazal

I take a mind-puzzle from my dreams.
I work it out slowly, silently in my soul.

I lie still, while choreographed images–
like shadow swimmers–form patterns in my soul.

I read the news that feeds me need-to-knows,
and all I don’t know makes a hollow in my soul.

I analyze a thousand perspectives,
turning them over and over in my soul.

I pray holy words–personal, not corporate–
I am imperfect, and I know better in my soul.

Dream {a Pantoum}

In my dream, the sun sets pink.
Tall evergreens grow all around
a sturdy house that will not sink.
Snow’s in patches on the ground.

Tall evergreens grow all around.
A house sits on a sloping hill.
Snow’s in patches on the ground,
and I remember still.

A house sits on a sloping hill.
No one knows it’s there,
and I remember still
the way the slope was bare.

No one knows it’s there–
a sturdy house that will not sink,
the way the slope was bare.
In my dream, the sun sets pink.

{Last month at dVerse, the Pantoum was the featured form. I missed the deadline, but I still wanted to try one. I had some difficulty finding the right subject. Then I ended up having a vivid dream that really stuck with me. So I decided to use that as inspiration. I have also been meaning to use more art with my writing–not because I’m any good at it, but because I think it helps to tap into the subconscious.}