Today's poem is by Angie Estes


             Mortise and tenon, tongue and
groove, tongue-in-cheek, the tenor
             holds the note until it dovetails
in air like the white kerchief of
             the Holy Spirit tied around the neck
of God in Masaccio's Trinity, the dove
             more banner than bird, which from
the beginning was the word for
             verb—part sky, part earth, part
of speech expressing action, occurrence,
             existence. It is wonderful,
Stein said, the number of mistakes
             a verb can make. Pardon, scusi
, word
for word, tell me whether the theory
             holds and, if so, how we will
hold up, hold out, hold
             on, and then I will hold you
to your promise the way the arms of God
             hold up the cross, which holds up
Christ. To have and to hold: hold
             that thought. Besides being able to be
mistaken and to make mistakes
             verbs can change to look like
themselves or to look
             like something else.
The inscription above
the skeleton below Christ's feet, for example,
             says the same holds
for you: I was that which you are,
             and what I am you will be.
So much
for vers libre. Do you think he looks
             like himself?
they asked, glancing toward
his casket. In the hold, in Masaccio's fresco,
             the grave is a wall with a barrel vault
pierced through, deep chamber below
             a coffered ceiling where God holds forth
in rose and black. Behold,
             I show you a mystery:
a ruse
is a ruse is a ruse. In Latin,
             to have verve is to have
words. It could be a version,
             aversion, a verse: please
advise. Not much we can know save
             the redbud, which wears its heart
on its leaves.

Copyright © 2004 Angie Estes All rights reserved
from Chautauqua Literary Journal
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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