Today's poem is by Maurya Simon


First the high road, then a bend
in the river. Soon, a crossing, the sound
of waves, and finally, a clearing:

like a dragon's mouth, Galilee glistens,
white caps for teeth; a tongue of sunlight
streaks across the fiery blue—

Here the beleaguered come: the lame,
the amputees, the fly-covered misfits;
wan pilgrims pitched onto weeping shores.

And golden is he who steps out daily
from the dark rooms of shadow—
the man whom stray dogs feverishly guard,

he who can summon the stars at noon,
who blinks throngs of wasps into flight,
who makes the dun stones speak before

they blossom into bread, who comforts
the dying, passing his fingertips over
their lips as lightly as a kiss.

And there is an arc of strangeness
about his form, as if a black swan
invisibly cradles his shoulder blades—

as if the soft machines of air
erase his breath with plumes of scent
culled from the cedars of Lebanon—

And he is as a temple before them.
No birds sing in his presence, nor dreams
visit the children humming like locusts.

There are the pangs of love suffered
even by shoals of fish the outcasts net
from the water's pastures; the scarlet

and black gifts of tongues that vultures
offer as their worship; the little live things
that women bring: all ceremonies of devotion.

The sound of quarreling waves quiets when
he passes, and the wide maw of horizon
turns fangless and silken, tamed by love.

He is no prophet, but simply a man
chosen by the lion, shaped by exile,
a measure of music traveling deserts,

a singed offering, a white sparrow,
a fugitive sorrow, a flask of spring snow,
a user's manual of the spirit—

and you will know him when he arrives
without fanfare, without hosannas,
for the face he wears is your own.

Copyright © 2004 Maurya Simon All rights reserved
from Ghost Orchid
Red Hen Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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