A Book Report on
In the car, unlikely vehicle for time travel,
daughter at twelve hands me the hanger
on which is poised her mobile --
for the book shes read on Vietnam.
I try not to tangle
the yarns twisting
around purse and steering wheel.
Later I remember my generation at twenty,
the war that
wrenched us, bookish and naive,
from the piano music of college parlors
protests on the streets. Yanked from poetry to
learned to be less polite, to stand
firm, to write an editorial and
prepare for jail.
The symbols we would hang on mobiles would be
bags, a child running from napalm
that seared her skin. The terrible price
too many funerals, friends widowed at nineteen.
The long wall,
finally, a black slice in earth,
etched names whispering a crescendo of
Old yarns in a web of memory. To her,
assignment; to me, the evocation of
long-buried names, a pool of sadness
with Baez song. Adrienne Rich was right:
a mother gives her
daughter rifts in time
but a daughter can also create a cleft.
Uncounted miles long
is the gray wall of yearning
and the rain slips down.
--Marian H. Simpson
drawing by -- Pat
The Eagle in His
In the diffuse light of early dawn,
Before the breeze
sculpted ripples on the lake,
The canoe drifted into a shallow cove.
Two women absorbed the quiet,
And gave back the silence to its element.
Beneath the craft, a catfish steadied against the current --
No need to
dart as we had neither line nor net.
Mesmerized, we watched the water lap
Listened to the splash of fish or frog,
Became encircled in
their widening rings.
Then a different sound jarred this inertia:
rush of air,
The powerful dip and soar of wings.
Three eagles lighting
on a barren limb;
Awestruck we watched and inched
Two allowed us only so much closeness;
But one remained
though to invite us to his ken.
And just when we thought
was the blessing,
He plucked a feather
From his breast
it to the water.
Now we paddled with purpose;
No further need to be
As we splashed toward the floating feather.
He watched us all
Till the fight was safely ours
Before he joined the wind.
Kansas City, Mo.
It was false even before the first caress
But how he
strove to make it true,
Talking less and less to suppress
The lie that
somehow grew and grew,
As he hid each new distress
Behind a mask of
Ordained he was and doomed to do those decent
Lost weekends in a darkened box, hearing the hapless
the squelch and slop of soggy sex, and flings,
The garbled groans of
slobbered lust, the guess
Of Grace beneath the blessed hands that bring
Such solace to those whose sins so strongly sting.
Weekdays dawned to see their sacred mascot at the
Drinking tepid teas and praising homemade bread.
How quick he
was to know his place, the steady
Pace of piety, psalming chants unto
To remove His silence from his flock and remedy
stumbling, dreadful doubts with sweet serenity.
How odd of God to use his ruse
To make Him known
among his people.
Silent, sullied and at bay, confused
Atop his tiny
He frets and bleats and stoops among the pews:
damnably decent things to choose!
No safety nets lie
under this tightrope.
the air holds us.
We can misstep
but not fall -- not
we reject the air
the God who is
lets her toes
sense the path
along the wire.
in the wind,
taut but flexible.
with the spiked tail,
lizard that bites
and wont let go.
Surrender to its message.
The desert dries everything
but evening cools
as we crawl
into our paths.
Lake Charles, La.
National Catholic Reporter, January 22,