Might I, if no one minds, crawl from the
rubble of this world
to speak of what you’ve done?
To note the earth below the collapse
and the sky above it, light piercing
the gloom and colors born of its shafts,
and greet the other rubble people rising,
shaking dust from their shirt,
and starting again?
Born December 30, 1926. Died December 1, 2016. God bless you and keep you!
Detail from triptych by Carla Veltman.
You were in your last days
and you’d open your eyes
and say you were tired.
We said, Sleep, and
We’re going for a walk.
I didn’t like that it was wet in the woods,
but there were acorns,
and that, she said, was what you did together –
make dolls of them, and sew.
Once she made pants. When she
thought she was, she said, I’m done,
but you said no.
You pulled stitches and fixed the seam.
You wouldn’t stop till you got it right.
Which is what you’re doing now, she said:
piecing the past and pulling tight the seam.
a wild little crying hope
meets the wave that washes it back
a girl fish, golden
I thought I was supposed to
do something big,
but it kept never happening
and I felt really small.
My heart became a sad, little
shrinking thing, and if you took me
whole and entire, I’d have fit through
the hole of a salt shaker.
The crystals were like boulders to me.
The worst of it was
I knew it was good to be little
and so I felt I
had no right to be sad.
I was selling the message of
poor in the Spirit, and believed it too,
so why was I sad? I knew big
would do nothing for me.
Thank God I wasn’t always sad.
Joy stole up like a teasing child.
Play a game. Look at my kaleidoscope.
I didn’t have the heart to shoo her away.
All she had to do was move a single cloud
and the whole world looked different.
When she left, though, to play with her ocean,
I’d put all the clouds back in place.
And it stayed that way, my face
fixed in a wrinkle, and it
stayed that way
until one day I saw
what the problem was.
I was trying to be big by being
a prophet of the little,
but forgot to be, really be, little,
a man at home in his own wooly heart,
working in sleet and sun and stain,
ready to live life alive again.
A man in a hat. A man with a rake.
A man whom happiness would not forsake
at the drop of a hat.
So now I’m off to do that job –
to work for free in God’s own yard.
God will rain and God will blow,
and I’ll rake His leaves and shovel His snow.
And smile as I do, for the little I know.