Drink your tea slowly and reverently,
as if it is the axis
on which the world earth revolves –
slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.
Live the actual moment.
Only this moment is life.
For my friend Ruth, who urges me to make an
appointment for the Sacrament of Confession
Concerning your letter in which you ask
me to call a priest and in which you ask
me to wear The Cross that you enclose;
your own cross,
your dog-bitten cross,
no larger than a thumb,
small and wooden, no thorns, this rose —
I pray to its shadow,
that gray place
where it lies on your letter … deep, deep.
I detest my sins and I try to believe
in The Cross. I touch its tender hips, its dark jawed face,
its solid neck, its brown sleep.
True. There is
a beautiful Jesus.
He is frozen to his bones like a chunk of beef.
How desperately he wanted to pull his arms in!
How desperately I touch his vertical and horizontal axes!
But I can’t. Need is not quite belief.
All morning long
I have worn
your cross, hung with package string around my throat.
It tapped me lightly as a child’s heart might,
tapping secondhand, softly waiting to be born.
Ruth, I cherish the letter you wrote.
My friend, my friend, I was born
doing reference work in sin, and born
confessing it. This is what poems are:
for the greedy,
they are the tongue’s wrangle,
the world’s pottage, the rat’s star.
One Truth to learn:
Ignorance is naught.
One truth to follow:
the path of Grace.
One truth to live:
Forget Him not.
One Truth to be:
His Heart and Face