Nature is an indifferent mother, I say
dutiful at best, she does what is required,
but not with tenderness.
That is a lie, you insist—
many animals practice nurturance,
play, camaraderie of a sort,
and choral singing besides.
Whales write new songs for every season,
every task and journey.
This is what you taught me.
Well what else is there to do
in the deep but practice the chords of heaven
through great fortresses of herring,
rock to the gentle hula
of the sea, make love like two spaceships
docking, teach strange iceblue songs
to your little calf, tease ocean liners
as they sludge past your easy grace
with motors and trouble?
© Nancy A. Henry (1998)
Oh you old broken jar
you are like me,
no use, no use
if You won’t mend
my shattered soul
let me spill light
from all these cracks
leak life to these dry acres,
from some unseen source
to pour and pour.
Let every gap be a door
Let me remember
what blooms from seeming death
in the secret place,
faith multiplying underground
out of the light
under the feet of the disbelieving
who stand shivering
© Nancy A. Henry (2000)
Your first adjustment will be hardest;
the wild spinning.
Brightness is easier, though shocking—
and breathing air—
but this movement,
even in the container
that keeps you from exploding
back into light,
even with this pump
that exerts a constant argument
even then you’ll feel it,
the vertiginous swirl of all of it,
rhythmic advance of sea;
the shrugs that heave mountains
out of shale plain.
Every one of us is overwhelmed by this at first.
Cry about it all you need to.
You will make your surefooted way in time,
a sailor on a rolling ship.
You will forget.
Can you trust me, stranger?
one day you will attune to this mad dance.
One day, nothing will seem to move at all
but the rivers,
and the wind,
and your own wild heart
as you run.
© Nancy A. Henry (2001)
This holy picture was painted with starpoints of light
shining from the body of Christ like knifeblades.
I am taken by the reverse image,
the darkness coming at him, shards of obsidian,
malevolent arrows. At Meteora
we tour a shot-up chapel, the eyes of the Blessed Mother
two crumbling bullet holes. Some soldier’s
unknowingly eloquent sacrilege, this
Madonna of the twentieth century,
this Madonna of man’s brutal blindness.
Yet, later, the bus crests a hill, and
I’m startled by a sunset so beautiful
I genuflect without thinking.
© 2001 Nancy A. Henry