Altar of the World

The altar of the world
takes our sacrifice,
each generation
stacked like kindling
on the stone slab,
struck by lightning
afire and burning
as a signal
in the silent dark
that the struggle
will continue
and there is hope.




Waldron sunrise


Impossible Beauty

The color green
in morning light,
black wings
against blue sky,
leaves burned gold
with the shock
of a photograph.
Her body rises
through concrete,
speaks in wind
and cloud,
her dreams and loss
the impossible beauty
of a bird.






When Night Comes

The branches are bare
after the scouring wind,
just a few strays left
against the blue sky
in the slant of sunlight
after the long storm.
Winter is coming,
days shorten
and long dreams
begin their approach.
When night comes
we find our way
close to the fire,
the flames speaking
of what’s hidden
as the dark returns.




The Wedding

Ireland, 1874


“We want you to marry us Father.”
What cheek the priest thought
sitting there with a baby in her lap,
asking me to marry them.
“I’ll need to hear your confession first.”
The man flinched, not raising his head;
rough hands kneading his cap, twisting it like rope.
“I’m not sorry for anything,” she said,
except coming here, under her breath.
Bold as brass thought the old priest
though he knew enough to hold his peace.
“There’s something we can all find
if we come to the Lord child”
and it won’t be anything I need
as she remembered the damp cottage
the stink of wool, the rotten vegetables
and the hunger.
“I’ll find something Father
if you’ll make the match”
and a fine one it will be thought the priest
as he looked past them and the baby
down the mud rutted road,
the sky filled with black clouds
and twilight fading.
The man never looked up
as they walked to the church
and the small light of the vestibule.
She knelt with the baby;
when the priest pulled back the screen
she crossed herself and spoke without faltering:
“Bless me Father for I have sinned,
it’s been a while since my last confession.
I’ve wanted what I’ll never have,
what I’ve got I may not keep”
and that was it.
He gave her the usual penance
knowing a thousand rosaries
wouldn’t chip the flint off this one.
The man kept his hand over his mouth
while he mumbled his contrition;
the old priest didn’t have the heart
to say speak up, couldn’t bear his own voice
echoing in the emptiness of the cruciform.
The man may have cared more
but he was beaten harder.
He’d shoulder a burden
but whatever light he’d had was gone out.
She’d carry them both with her fire and fierce will.
The priest called his housekeeper to bear witness;
he didn’t bother about rings
knowing they hadn’t one between them.
“What God has joined together…till death do you part”
as the baby wailed, the hat twisted tighter
and the girl thought the day will come soon enough
as they forced open the wooden door into the growing dark,
the wind raking the leafless trees with cold rain falling.