By Jill Pelaez Baumgaertner
The whole world, all of its grasses, oceans,
the tropical red blossoms opening to reveal
miniature villages of stamen and pistil.
The whole world knows its own beauty,
recognizes the gravity pull of poetry
into the crimson of itself, the peeling away
of oceans, the revelation of hibiscus,
the grasses’ invitation to the horse.
Yet this is only the first stirring of the feather,
its most minute turning in a direction
before the motion begins. This is only the ugly.
What follows, what goes beyond this, is beauty.
The rivulet through the woods,
the water pooled on the shower floor,
the desert dew collected in pans,
the water of sunburn and dream,
All water flows to the sea
green with grief and tears,
green with hazard,
lower than all other waters,
creation’s churn powerful with pull
and the humility of origins.
The dream silvers the day with longing.
The dream unravels back to origins.
The filament stretches from one blade tip of grass
to another, wafting in the slanted sunlight.
Light as sunlight
and warm, sunwarm,
this sand trickles from
between my fingers
as I uncurl fists of it,
not quite dust,
dreamwork for some
white winter morning.
Like diving into the still lake
before the turning,
before the stretch
to break the grey surface.
This deep sleep, dreamless.
In dreams the road veers
off into deep water,
the pine-needled path
gives way to tangled brush,
and the still pond greens over.
The pattern is simple, clear,
its lines clean as right-angles.
Through the water I trail my hand.
Jill Pelaez Baumgaertner is Professor of English and Dean of Humanities and Theological Studies at Wheaton College. She also serves as poetry editor of The Christian Century. Her latest book of poems is My Father’s Bones.