Death of a Theologian
Daniel Corrie

                . . . nature in her highest non-human
                aspects is God . . . .                                                                                   –Charles Hartshorne

Theology is
a great courtesy
and a profession
which speculation
grants itself.

One theologian
doubled as

Thumb cocked on
he followed birds
on his morning tramps,

stalking songs
of mate seeking
feathered mate

or challenging
feathered rival.

Sun spilled through the green
and the birdcall.

His pages
and a reader
are thinking together

not the bird but
the bird’s flight –

not the flight but
the feeding
of worms dangled
to hungry hatchlings –

not the feeding but
the song
of a few notes,
repeated and slightly varied –

He is becoming it
with me.

The passing of all time
dreams a morning’s
verdant fullness.

Yellow, gray, and brown
of chat, catbird, and thrasher

weave through leaves,

trills, chits, and chirrs
verging to words.

The near-words of birds
play a while at mocking
the words
of human speculation –

science’s words
say ‘neurons

as they flash like coveys
through a brain
dreaming –

great sky
of stars flashing
like neurons–

The words – the chirps –
scatter like a covey
startled, fleeing branches

a thought like a wren,
a wren like a raptor,
a raptor like a comet –

comets flying into melting,
migrating their same circuits
past lives of suns

The last bird departs,
its song now
like laughter

or words
more distinct,
more familiar

oh long-departed Greek –

oh pagan pantheist –

step out from
the stricken thickets
and brambles of death –
and return

with a new face
to laugh up
to the sky
and green branches

The warbling asks

who brings grief
into the forest
of creation

we create?

To see the wings –

To become the wings

for the small patrol
from branch to branch

or for the far migration
of the thousands of miles –

Finally, birds’ words
must return to chatter,

then hush
to wind’s vagrancy.

Finally, the many pages
again must green
to mere leaves

needing no meanings
nor solace’s

To become subsiding

into bird-being
to leaf-being
to soil-being –

To feel falling
into pure being –

Mythic Shiva
weaves his dance,
four arms blurring
in shifting trance
to wings to arms to wings.

Wings of destruction
and creation soar
in the one flight through
the dancer’s trance,

steps retracing
their circle,
turning and turning.

Vast tracts of gas
shiver to stars
dying to dust

shivering to
a meteoric history,

apes foraging under
primordial branches,

Buddha cloistered
under branches,
lost in gazing
as if through
a future lifting

martyred prayer
of wood’s height
rootless and leafless,
blunted and rasped,

dying words falling
like fruit

for those not knowing
what they do.

Trees topple.  Branches break
to asphalt highways
humming and hazing, cities
swarming and hazing.

In flight through eons,
the myriad wheels
of galaxies turn,

diaspora of dervishes.

In flight through a moment,

wings dive,
talons opening
in the hawk-rush

seizing the fugitive
pulse of pigeon.

From the dead
oak’s height,
the green world mirrors

in the eyes of the hawk
returned to its vigil.

Perhaps in time’s dream,
verdant fullness
and bare branches
forever blur,

where lightning
breaks, branching
like a moment’s
remembered tree.

He is becoming it,
with me.

Sometimes time
is a morning

of quiet light
falling like stillness
through branches,

sun warming earth
friable with
new leaves’

Duff’s brown deepens
to black of humus

inching deeper
through years thousanding

with fertility
of leaves fallen
to rest with leaves,

trees fallen
to rest with trees,

roots interlacing
with the churn of worms
and beetles.

Sometimes sunlight warms
the shoulders
of someone tramping,

then shoulders
of someone else
returning to
the place once visited.

The sunlight
also warms wings
of the ones
who dart there

born to feathers and sky,
as others are born
to questions
and speculation.

The great song
of a few notes
repeats, slightly varied –

rivalry into courtship
into rivalry,

silence into trilling
into silence,

snowfall turning
into rainfall

turning into
pages turning –

turning and turning –

ineffable eloquence
of turning.

Sunlight’s stillness
sometimes falls

as words sometimes call
through a page’s silence

or as, through doubt
and meteoric memory,

knowing alights.

Moments of knowing
pass through time
like birds scattering.

Bloodlines scrawl                                                        
like unknown script
across generations,

as memory slurs
human histories
of empires.

Then all time’s
for a while,

becomes one
finch’s prattling
through undergrowth

and an antiphon
of empty quiet.

It does not
begin or end
with human purpose.

Last week, Tom’s letter
talked of Peter’s
last words to his daughter:
Have fun.

Family carried out
his wishes,
spreading his ashes
over his favorite
hunting dog’s grave.

What is the value
of human intelligence?
no birdcall asks.

Closely argued
doctrines die
in wordless arguments
of everything’s alteration,

rainclouds purpling open
to hyacinths inky
in the wild,
wilting into drought’s
white aura.
Each in cloudy cast
of white,
blueberries ripen.
They swell like small

universes opening
dark in the cast
of stars’ white.

Berries’ spheres float
in the thickets and air
of their astronomy,
dotting June’s heat.

When thought searches,

truth and essence
flash like plumage,
dallying a while

as another
sort of song.

Finally, nature
nearly names
itself –

knows itself –

Words form
their sudden syllables
through eons’
wordless wash.

Words move
through thought
as clouds move
through sky,

moments evanescing
into being, evaporating.

Through mornings
of its brief life,
the mourning dove
coos somber patience.

Hidden in thickets,
the hermit thrush
purely flutes
its paean of serenity.

Blending hidden
from roving hunger,
wild eggs speckle
with the colors

of rock, sand,
and shadow blowing
through leaves and grass,

their world-colors
concealing them,
as though
through world-awareness.

Eggs cradle elder
instincts resurrecting
into hatchlings
stirring into fledging

into the leaves
and the skies of their lives.

Giant among woodpeckers,
the ivory-billed
had flashed
broad wings, rowing
black and white

into silence,

flown away
with its forests.

Flashing to a twig,
a chickadee cocks
its bodily smidgen,
raucously scolding.

Some pages
and a reader
were thinking together,
I remember.

Beyond branches,
skies sometimes blue
tinging into

blue eyes
like Lillie’s,
modest woman grown old

I remember so clearly,
with thanks.

Living through presence
left by predecessors,

through time tinged
with their trying,

we might tinge time,

birdcall answering
distant birdcall.

Hepatica’s sky-blue
petals answer
sky’s blue.

Bunting’s blue rises
into the blue of sky.

Passing through the vast
inhuman habitation,

the human moment
might define itself –
find itself.

The oblivious blue
of sky deepens
to oblivious night’s
flocking stars.

We are becoming it.

All is becoming it all.

Human choice forks
to further choice,

each life rising
through time, branching
to take shape –

tree of choices opening –

stunted and twisted –

graceful and full.

The tree stands
beneath the shifting

winter constellations
drifting into mornings

of summer clouds.

Branches rise opening,
and roots open

as purpose opens.

Time gives me
my being,

as I give time
its being.

Time’s initiates
initiate time –

become the branching
shape of time –

as more mornings
will spill

through other green
and other birdcall,

praying seasons.

Return to Spring 2014 Table of Contents