DREAMING ICE HOUSE SANCTUARY
Scouting snow solstice
Tucked into paradise
20 December 2013
ON RECEIVING THIS DAY: SABBATH POEMS
BY WENDELL BERRY, FROM A FRIEND
—for Lee Bassett
Sunday Morning. Karen leaves early
to ring bells for early service. Sister Sadie Sadie,
The old dog, arthritic, sleeps by the fire at my feet.
The old poet calls himself Lowdown,
In his opening prayer, This Day,
Being about time always coming up short
In time's own world. I begin here, before
Reading the last poem in the book,
Mad Farmer returning to close out the present,
Recalling an early image of Christ in a barn.
From here, he steps out,
And I turn again to his first Sabbath poems
From the mid-70s. The poet sits
Through fears and songs of critters
Among trees, until he hears
His own song. Here is where we met,
And when, my dear friend, decades past,
Setting out for silence, and failing.
The poet Wendell Berry
Gives up two words: Spirit and wild,
Carrying comfort and convention.
We're the ones out of control.
It is the Second Sunday in Advent.
The first reading from Isaiah:
Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist.
December 10, 2013
HE TRANSLATED POEMS FROM EVERY SHRED
OF HIS ANCESTRAL PAST ON HIS WAY TO HAFEZ
When the movie and love-making are over
the night remains clear, and sky opens
for poems of Robert Bly. One has only
to find one word and childhood returns.
Cistern appears and I am six, descending
basement stairs of the Victorian House
owned by Great Northern Railway,
grasslands from Saskatchewan protecting
our family from wind. I’m sitting
on the second step in winter, basement
below me, wood steps winding the way
around a mysterious cache of water.
Sitting between worlds. Get to Hafez
in Shiraz by going through North Dakota.
By pass Minneapolis. Take the door
from the kitchen to the basement. Bly
unlocks his revolutionary past through Denmark.
He says the roof of the house will last the night,
and all poems end in gratitude. The hidden center
unexpressed by the poet himself holds the key.
Remove the links tying poems to occasion.
I could not have done this work on my own.
One can be reborn by reading the Gospel
in a second language. Counting the heavens
in Robert Bly’s poems leaves a man dizzy.
Jim Bodeen8 November-18 December 2013