3:58 a.m.

My bladder didn’t alarm me.

Thoughts pulled me out of bed

and I lifted the toilet seat anyway.

I then fumbled in the dark

and plucked a book off the shelf.


Wendell Berry started poeming me.


Old man thoughts strung

to the background hum of the fridge

and a faint ticking of the clock.


Wendell thinking in lines

and subtle turns of phrase.

Language was handled over and again

like a threshing toss in the wind.


He said what he meant

and meant what he said

like one grain of wheat.


“I know that I have life

only insofar as I have love.


I have no love

except it come from Thee.


Help me, please, to carry

this candle against the wind.”


How I long to mean like that.



Tight Words Loosen

Two hands open,

and spider leg fingers

touched down and

touched me.

She worked on me.

She pushed on knots

with oiled syllables.

Over and over

phrases massaged

my backbone.

Knowledge loosened

into understanding.

I was etherized on a table

long enough to rise

without what ails me.

Now my hands are again open

to work something out for you.


For Luci Shaw.