Chancellor Florida State Poets Association
Florida Poet Laureate Volusia County
Winner of 2011 American Poet Prize
Moved by a quiet cyclone, a tarp set out to dry
on our neighbor's lawn lifts itself, gasps
and collapses, gasps and collapses.
You lightly suggest someone check: perhaps
someone's buried alive, or perhaps something's come
to mock our little dying acts. Eddies of light
drawn to a wayward canvas. Flecks of water
surrendering to a draft the way that love surrenders
after cruel words – breath by breath.
That mechanical grace that filters through the hands
and through the air when the self sees it has no choice
but to move toward a world of symbols and prayer.
In the desert tides of Reno, and under the brooding sky of San Jacinto
men barefoot, women in beautiful cotton skirts
are laying down tarps like this – portable labyrinths –
on which they'll formalize our pilgrimage from kiss to bed
to river's edge. For a path, a cruciform quadrant
or a six-petal rose that calls up the Heart of Chartres.
And, for the blind walk, the on-axis straight approach
to the rose's core at the center of the mat: the mantra's
mantra. How good they are to make a prayer life
of the body's work. Or not goodness, but resolve, perhaps.
The same resolve that keeps us at our tasks: Saturdays
with our chores, Sundays in garden paths
lost in the rhythm of bowing and straightening up
assured our small cruelties are absolved from above.