To those who tried to kill me

I am only sometimes haunted

by the broken sand that became water –

there was a beach we stood upon

and then there was only the ocean

rushing past the memory of standing.

It has seemed to me that the rising tide

gathered my attachment to colored glass

and gave me sheets of wet fog sealing the horizon

with only the razor of light coming at dawn or dusk

when earth moves her body to see the mother sun.

I cannot remember dry sand hot under summer

but now this damp and cool wind, the smell of salt

and the liminal space between the hours, freed from you.

 

 

Mary Lautzenhiser Bellon

 

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A little Spring poem

I am not sure when I traded the sand dollar

for the sound of geese behind the pond –

at first, a part of my mind was always there

at the lip of the wave rushing onto shore

sliding back and leaving the white circle etched with stars.

But yesterday, I listened and heard the long honking of the geese

and saw yellow bundles of the young, falling into the water,

and the waves were ghosts I could only summon at night,

studying the constellations that cover both the sea and this small pond.

 

It is sure footing to be where your sandal presses against the edge

of where you stand, to feel the wind that has carried you all the way

from the ragged edge of a salty beach to the smooth grass licking the ducks,

with turtles sunning on the dead log, and dragon flies shading your eye lashes.

What a thing to be here, to be now, to know that in the losses and grief

the earth bears, she invites you to know her now, in this place, in this moment,

and when you have passed, she continues:  the geese, the sea, and

the mountains and deserts you have not approached. Knowing she will carry you

in her memory, long after you and all others have gone.

 

Mary Lautzenhiser Bellon

5-7-18

Lenten Poem

We shall be recovered

from the distance of our first breath

from the water womb that soaked our skin, which we left, and so many times, left, hardening

in the dry air, leaving our awakening,

and dying a little, letting our first breath, Divine,

disappear from our minds, letting ourselves believe

we could not breathe.

We shall be recovered

when our skin is soaked with Jordan

wherever that river flows

and above the current, the wind,

Holy, breathing us, breathing memory

that we are from a whole cloth

knit from great intention

named before we understood.

We shall be recovered

when the grief comes, or when,

visited by a comfort,

Presence is a hand on our fevered heads;

when we have lost everything we wanted

and have found everything we love.

When the dark is like light,

when the light leads us into dark

We shall be recovered.

.Mary Lautzenhiser Bellon

Lenten Poem

Let me turn something over

in the heart of God,

let me turn over,

this rock, this stone,

let me turn it over to hear

the language hidden beneath

the words strewn carelessly in the day.

 

Let me turn over the log

where the bright blue mushrooms

signal the wet evening

to meet its shaded hope;

let me turn over the places

where life hides deep in the ground.

 

Let me turn over the moment

when the mute swans strung their

wide willowing wings across the

thin ribbons of left over clouds,

the wisps of what had been bundled

into the shapes of afternoon imagination.

 

Let me turn over the heart

that beat its kindness like a silver drum

dropping coins into a pauper hat.

Let me turn over the moment I knew

this rising shine of light within

burnt the rope that knotted my hands.

 

Let me turn over something

in the numinous, in the mystery,

and let it be the heart of God.

 

Ash Wednesday

These ashes belong to some generation

that inherited the fire we lit this morning.

Last Easter’s palms, wrinkled and darkened

light easily with a wooden match,

until we sift the remains into bowls with oil

to rub upon our memories, our losses, our regrets.

 

You might kneel today and the priest smudge your forehead

while the ash bends into your mind

so you can see again the brevity of your thoughts,

how they come and go, linger and slip away.

This ash upon you welcomes those who stand guard

in spiritual assurance; perhaps, your mother and father,

your grandfather, the first poem by your grandmother,

supporting your intentions, your need to kneel.

 

There is a time to kneel, whether to give thanks or weep:

close to the earth you can hear water and heat below;

the ground you rest upon is held deep in liquid,

and your body too, rivers held by skin and bone.

Someday the water in us will be free, and our minds, too, will flow

into the great galaxy of love and hope, where we might bless

our children and grandchildren as they kneel, remembering and knowing

they are fire, water and ash. There is a power, a healing, in that:

to know the mind of love is the string of the universe to which we are attached.

 

Mary Lautzenhiser Bellon

Prayer

I have listened into nothing

beyond the place of laughter or wound,

the stillness in the pause between gusts of wind,

 

the small moment – there is quiet,

and in that slight sleeve, everything:

a place between this and that breath,

 

the way a strand of hair falls across your forehead

when the wind dies down

and before it heaves again.

 

I have been held, separately and together,

in some close heart that is beating alive the universe:

there, I can say it unashamed, it has silenced

 

all the noise of this world shouting,

shouting as if by shouting Someone would hear

like the unthinking in the presence of the deaf

 

who are talking instead with movement

and the gesture of understanding

and who know the beat of the universe is theirs,

 

the sign language of love hidden in the depth of still silence.

Finally, after so many years, I am growing deaf, welcomed,

into the grand orchestra of God’s singing hands.

 

Mary Lautzenhiser Bellon

October 30, 2017

Summer Hawk

Yesterday a red shouldered hawk sat on my fence

his yellow talons gripping the black rail,

and I wondered why he stopped beside me

beside the window an arm’s breadth away

where we could peer at each other, see ourselves

in each other’s eyes, imagine the wingspan of our flight.

 

Was it I who visited his morning or he who visited mine

or in this season of rolling warm summer we were accidently met?

I will say this: in his sharp sight I saw the day as possibility

and the night as a ribbon between his beak. I saw flight

and rest as ways of living on the earth, and the space

between us only a matter of where the sun stood

lighting our eyes, recognizing our gaze while the grass

lay wet from the early hour and the trees breathed awake.

 

Mary Lautzenhiser Bellon