There is Grace Dwelling at the Edges of Our Imposition
for David King
Water oak branches, wet with mist and green,
cover me, open like hands of an elderly God
long forgotten. In this, the cool of the day,
my children yet asleep, I sit on the back porch
reading Merton. The chant of engines from Old 41
slips through oak fingers where five wrens gather—
four of them new to the world, following a parent
divining grubs from dead limbs, trilling an ave,
answered from the fencerows by clicks of its mate.
One wren alights on a gasoline can, seeks spiders
settled in corners of a dirty grill, surveys a wheel well,
the undercarriage of a stroller, my son’s sand bucket
he left outside. By the shed, a lone tomato plant shades
a thrasher searching weeds. A grackle glints purple
in morning sun, kicks through a leaf pile amid poison ivy.
Robins and jays begin their procession for daily bread,
meet one another with the wariness of inferred enemies.
Eastern bluebirds assay a box adorned by blackberry,
their newly fledged young with them, ready to raise
another brood where they have raised before, this box
from which I removed their old nest days ago,
petrified beetles woven within its pine needle heart
that now rots in the compost pile where a catbird treads.
In the crisis of modern man, Merton saw negation,
man’s refusal of himself, to be the ultimate danger:
humankind’s refusal to partake in the indwelling of God,
choosing instead the mass and its promise of greatness.
There is nothing great here on this ground off Old 41,
this place plain as dirt and day, flickering in first light.
This nothingness is not a void, but the hollow of a hand,
open as a cradle. From a window, I hear the first murmurs
of my children waking, and I return to the house to join them.