It never ceases to unnerve me

It never ceases to unnerve me, planes
flying this high with plastic windowpanes.
Against my brow the inner of the two
is cold and on its flip side flecked with dew.
Beyond the outer, strands of water vapor
drift like disassembled tissue paper,
or like the fingers of the mist advancing
through rose and lilac bush and chain-link fencing.
I can remember summer morning fog
peopled by no one but the odd gull or dog
(invisible), and sounded on the hour
by the bells ringing in St. Mary’s tower,
bells that deepened, not dispelled, the silence,
bells one can hear out on the harbor islands,
they say, on a still day. Star of the Sea,
Mother of God, Mary, pray for me,
pray for my mother, Mary, and my father, John.
Always, but now, especially, and while we’re gone.

Day is fairest as it wanes

Day is fairest as it wanes.
All the love that heaven contains
lies collected in a darkling glow
spread out over
earth, our home below.

All is tenderness and gentle hands.
God himself erases distant strands
All is nearby, all is far away.
All is given
to us for a day.

All is mine, all will be taken from me
Soon enough all will be taken from me:
trees and clouds, the very ground I pace.
I shall wander
off without a trace.

–after Pär Lagerkvist

from Light So Late

I have to admit, it does look like a brain,
but what’s brain coral doing in our garden
if it can only live in a tropical sea?
Is it a souvenir (this is my parents’
theory) of the ship’s captain who built our house?
I prefer to believe it’s prehistoric.

I’m ten and adore all things prehistoric,
have mounds of books with which I’ve stuffed my brain
with all the dinosaurs that it can house.
My favorite fantasy’s that, in the garden,
back by the fence, in brush too dense for parents,
it’s still a hundred million years B.C.

I do not follow Dante down…

“I do not follow Dante down…” by Håkan Sandell
Translated by Bill Coyle

I do not follow Dante down, who has hung
nine days in tree-shade, a shaman, to the gates
of the underworld, but stay here in the sun
observing idly how the light gold-plates

my silver ring, on the table a vermouth.
Before a shrouded Santa Maria Novella
the plague has caught up with some tardy youths
by the empty cathedral where, in the first twelve &

a half pages of the Decameron,
a little hope is kindled. That was then.
An American orates to his mobile phone
like the addict on the steps to an invisible friend.