Two Shadows

The little one belongs to her
and the taller one is mine, though I doubt
she knows the shadows walking hand
in hand ahead of us in the field
are ours. If I walk behind her mine,
without a word, overshadows
all of hers, a magic I think she likes.
And when I walk at her side again,
the two of us return, a giant
and his long-legged little helper,
who’s new enough to walking still
she manages a wobble or swings
a foot in picking the place to put it.
None of this beautiful, secret love
will last. Other shadows will come
along, and she’ll see her own one day
apart from mine. But before those fates
arrive, I’m going to stretch my arms,
and tipping and twirling, I’ll show her how
to turn her shadow into a bird
and rest it softly in the tree,
and afterward, when she sees a shadow,
perhaps she’ll think of birds or me.

Memories of an Omnipotent God

I recollect when God would stab
a lightning bolt in the ground beside
a man who’d wandered into the realm
of wrong, and the man would come to his senses
and change, and spend the rest of his days
reciting the incident and how
it made him the thankfullest man on earth.
It was a sign old God was watching,
and a further sign the Man Upstairs
was pretty good with a lightning bolt—
right in the ground beside the sinner,
who came away with only a smudge
on his face and a wonderful song in his heart.
That would be something to sing about,
the relief from grief.

The Gospel of Music

You have to thank the great beyond
if your child delights in birdsong,
especially a chorus of it
a dizzy crowd of birds singing—
warbles, chits, and caws ringing
through the sanctuary of the woods.
Although I heard the birds myself,
it was the little one who pointed
her finger to the budding trees
and pronounced the word she has for music,
composed of a pair of syllables
both beginning vaguely with Y,
with emphasis rightly on the first.
It happens also to be the word
she has for donkey and the plural
of donkey. And it’s also the word
she says regarding the photograph
of an old-time banjo player
she sees at suppertime. She sees
the sound of a silent instrument,
and that’s the true Gospel of Music.
In the beginning was the word,
and the word was music and birds and donkeys,
and God was a serious banjo-player
with an inscrutable face, who said
to everything alive, I made
the world for singing. Now, you sing.