Heaven Letter

The Corn Baby

They brought it. It was brought
from the field, the last sheaf, the last bundle

the latest and most final armful. Up up
over the head, hold it, hold it high it held

the gazer’s gaze, it held hope, did hold it.
Through the stubble of September, on shoulders

aloft, hardly anything, it weighed, like a sparrow,
it was said, something winged, hollow, though

pulsing, freed from the field
where it flailed in wind, where it waited, wanted

to be found and bound with cord…

Amaryllis (After Rilke)

How you admire it. How you see it vibrate
in the draft, a song it is, a complex wheel
bitten with cogs, swelling and sexual,
though nothing will touch it. You have forced it
to spread itself, to cleave and grasp,
remorseless, open to your assignments—

this is availability, this is tenderness,
this red plane is given to the world.
Sometimes the heart breaks. Sometimes
it is not held hostage. The red world
where cells prepare for the unexpected
splays open at the window's ledge.
Be not human you inhuman thing.

Gebet eines Ehemannes (A Husband’s Prayer)

You, author of all wonders,
shown to us by your many prophets
and instruments—our own shoemaker’s daughter,
illiterate and bent, who proclaims from her special chair
in the meetinghouse, who reminds us to be humble,
and not aspire above our station,
to find beauty in utility, and to beware idolatry—
you who chose to provide me with a spouse,
and a house, a barn and sheds, gardens,
a small orchard, a field rich with clover,
hives humid and speckled with pollen,
and who finds the greatest satisfaction
when we attend to three responsibilities:
to be a brother to another, to be a good
and kindly neighbor, to move through the world
with a mate; give me strength…

Coyote, The Mange

Oh, Unreadable One, why
have you done this to your dumb creature?
Why have you chosen to punish the coyote

rummaging for chicken bones in the dung heap,
shucked the fur from his tail
and fashioned it into a scabby cane?

Why have you denuded his face,
tufted it, so that when he turns he looks
like a slow child unhinging his face in a smile?

A Servant’s Prayer

Oh Tenderhearted, O Kindhearted,
you who have spared us from eternal servitude,

by torturing and killing your only child,
we know what you can do.