Friday, April 3, 2009

Nassau, Bahamas 23.5.1993: Mourning Doves and Coconut -Scented Air

The anniversary of my grandmother’s death, 25 years ago, on Ascension Thursday, which is celebrated today in the Bahamas Catholic community.

The air this morning smells faintly of coconut and spice. The wind is very strong and cool. Coconut palms dance and rattle in the breeze, which may be why I associate its smell with them. Mourning doves call insistently, surprisingly loudly, in the bush at the bottom of the hill all around the monastery.

I’m still headachy, a headache that never goes away with sleep or rest, and so I fear it’s due to high blood pressure. All the trips I’ve made in recent years, when I’ve had my pressure taken, it was high. . . .

Through it all, I want to hear God’s word. Ausculte, says Benedict’s rule. And yet God speaks most powerfully not in the storms or high wind, but in the still small voice—a voice of a small girl, the text about Elijah says.

+ + + + +

Totus Mundus Exilium Est

This day:
This all-I-ever-see,
My eyes unhinged from urgency
As ghouls grin through my door:

This wind rustling wild lace skirts
Over the island, atop Fox Hill
On the monks' bare heads.

Nassau at church,
Repenting the poinciana's scarlet hair,
Palm trees welcoming whatever comes
Sundays, sun days,
Their own way,
Fronds the aboriginal shutter,
Now permitting, now occluding

Play of air and light,
Coconuts dangling in the tree's scrotum,
Emitting their musky man smell
All over New Providence.

+ + + + +

Poetry, good poetry, is what happens when details matter—this three, that happening, nothing else. Poetry is thus the speaking World, World as Word and Sacrament.

No comments: