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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Behind the door

Every day my children, big as they are, still like to open a door on the little wooden Advent calendar and find a present inside. Here is a kind of door for you, with a present inside.

Originally published in Mezzo Cammin.
Included in the poetry collection, The Throne of Psyche (Mercer University Press, 2011)


Certain things were given to me:                 
Such loveliness as swords possess,
Humility as hushed as snow,
Kindness branching red in my veins,
The love of wildwood animals.

I learned early I was a fool                          
And worthless. Still, I dare to lodge
Certain protests against brokenness,
Certain protests against heart’s maiming,
Certain protests against death’s hour.

The mirror made such promises!
Was it godly, was it devilish?
A scabbard waiting to be filled,
The seven little fairy men,
A face like snow that sleeps in glass.

Not one of them came true, and now
I kneel forsaken on the ground,
In turn reproaching Christ and men,
So close to perishing that I
Dream lanterns and my mother’s face.

The Kingdom of God is next to me.     
That’s what the holy father said.
It is closer.  Death is a seed
Gripped in my hand. I never thought
To know such wildwoods of despair.

What good has all my kindness done
That stood in the hall like a red branch?
What use was beauty’s melting snow?
Must I forgive this naked life
Of thorns, the sweat kissing my brow?


  1. Awesome!

    Your little wooden Advent calendar piques my interest as well. Photo, please? We always had those German illustrated paper ones with chocolate inside when the children were small. The current imitators don't compare.

  2. marja-leena,

    It was a present from in-laws. I think it was from L. L. Bean. Lots of little painted doors. It will hold tiny things, or else you can prop the day's gift up against it with the door open. Lots of Christmas treats this year, plus odd little things Mike brought back from Morocco.

    Pleased you liked the poem!

  3. Picture... Okay, shall try before the 12 days are done!


Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.