THE ROSIE LEE TOMPKINS MANUSCRIPT
Dedicated to Rex DeLoney, painter & teacher, and Karen Bodeen, quilter
ABSORPTION STORY: A QUILT FOR ROSIE LEE TOMPKINS*---1936-2006
The pool is giving birth to itself
all the time.
Rosie Lee Tompkins
Bright colors, big stitches.
A flash of recognition.
Monday morning, sitting with coffee
beside the painting as yet unhung,
Karen walks into the garden room, Good morning.
Rosie Lee Tompkins is home.
Quilters working, Quilters don’t stop.
Go to the next one.
Why this! What dodge! Such fragile immersion!
What hiding revelation!
Inside outside thread stitch
This another way
This other pocket
border crossing tapes
and big color
Dramatic use of what’s at hand
This spiritual practice.
INCENSE IN THE HOME
BLESSING THE PAINTING,
A QUILT FOR ROSIE LEE TOMPKINS
BY THE ARTIST REX DELONEY
And the Lord said to Moses: Take unto thee spices,
and the clearest frankincense...and thou shalt make incense
compounded by the work of the perfumer,
well tempered together, and pure, and most worthy
Exodus 30: 34-37
Pastor Kathleen comes to the door
with charcoal called Resurrection.
She carries a censer of clay molded
by the artist, Oh my wife says,
seeing the bowl, that censer was formed
by the hands of one we knew, Lorraine Samuelson!
The pastor has come to bless the painting.
The pastor has come at the request
of the quilters of the hearth.
She has come to prepare a place
for the quilter, Rosie Lee Tompkins,
colorist, whom God has given the gift
to see colors, and to spread love.
When the incense has been lit
and smoke wafts through the room
where the painting is hung,
the pastor asks, May I stand here,
beside the painting, By Rosie Lee Tompkins?
The painting itself is surrounded by quilts
by my wife, the quilter Karen Bodeen.
Beside the painting on the mantel,
and within several quilts on the wall,
is the Rabbit Goddess Mother Innocence,
quilt-robed herself, flowers over her breasts,
and her paws folded together in front of her.
Rabbit Goddess Mother Innocence
was created by the hands of Jane Gutting.
Pastor Anderson begins, Let us thank God
for sharing gifts of beauty with us, asking
for a moment of silence.
Blessed are you, O Lord our God,
creator of the universe. We praise you and we
thank you for letting artists see the beauty
of your creation. [I ask myself,
am I seeing or hearing? Where am I?
What is this? What is being asked of me?]
I sit on the far couch, diagonal to the pastor;
her husband, who came with her, sits
beside me, and my wife across
from the painting, sits in her customary
chair facing her work on the wall.
Pastor Anderson continues, We ask you
to bless these creators who by their gifts
make the world a more joyful realm.
Through their labors they teach us to see
more clearly the truth around us. In their
inspiration they call forth wonder and awe
in our own living, In their hope and vision
they remind us that life is holy. [Each of us
have before us a glass of sun tea, brewed
earlier this morning on the garden deck.
The tea, Kuki Hojicha (roasted stems),
provides a fine aroma and sweetness,
a gift from Mayumi our exchange daughter
in Japan. Iced, it mingles with the smoke.
Perhaps we’re following along;
perhaps we’re already transported.
Maybe someone is locked into words.
Even here, present to all, I have lost
track of the pastor’s voice as she continued,
We ask you to bless + this painting,
this work of art created to honor
the work of Rosie Lee Tompkins.
Pastor Anderson sat down
in the rocking chair that came
from my grandfather, born in 1899,
and refinished by my wife for my birthday.
The four of us in the room now beginning.
29 June 2021
Maggie will be nervous until after her sister goes...
Karen says, I am more like Maggie.
Everyday Use, this is love and trouble,
Braided Lives on Turtle Island
Rex, in the story of how we got here
A man puts Turtle Island on the desk
alongside Braided Lives
and we put the words together
that’s all it was.
That’s all it ever is.
One sister stays home.
One goes to university.
One wraps herself in her mother’s quilts
One hung the quilts on the walls.
Every day, the same questions,
our behaviors before us
coverups and coverings.
What to do against the word
this armed confrontation
syllabic violent language drumbeat
veiled beauty another one
almost destroyed us
threatening, remaining danger
Such determined silence in reds and yellows
The every where of blue
Coming from cloth, coming from inside of cloth
Patched up like that girl child.
Rex, can you do that in paint?
With your fist full of brushes?
Karen says she’s more like Maggie.
Rex says, I already knew this story.
Rex in Little Rock, painting,
teaching school, Rex with brushes.
Making that fist.
Rex with a fist full of brushes
all those paintings in my head--
Nina Simone, Ali, Amiri Baraka—
Miss Rosa Parks—Where
did you come from, Cotton-eyed Joe?
Rex, can you do this one, for Miss Karen?
Moses drawn up from the water
Corazon endurecido, hard-hearted
pharaoh-vamp, Savannah lokomoto
train track stop. How long, Lord?
Lord, how long.
Hope born of the same word,
la misma palabra
While we wait
This free play
Free play through
All of us bordering
free play of thought
and the horns, Mingus, the horns!
My sister, Mingus! Mingus.
Ornette Coleman free
Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting Free
Free like Mingus, Mingus-freed.
Moses in a mask, disfigured by God,
Seen and mean,
inside color, disappearing
wasn’t that Rex!
JUST A CLOSER LOOK
precious Jesus, hear my
daily walking close
Inches from the paint, Rosie Lee Tompkins
is the medallion on canvas, central image
of the quilt from God surrounding
her, come from the hand of the painter,
Rex DeLoney. Light-filled in half-square
scarf. Yellow bandana. And if you look
closer, over-the tops of cut cloth. Look
how radiance emerges! Colors of peaches
from forehead to cheeks. Eyes
deepest blue pools filling, emptying,
Coltrane-like. Bluest brows. Full lips,
unmistakably Rosie’s, wizened-red--
but right here, on her right side--
(the viewer’s left), shadowed
cheekbone to chin, her face, dark,
breaks through squares of material
blocks of red and orange,
epiphany portrait come from
the artist-hand, illumination.
Just above this square
the cross in red and white stripes.
A printed sign at the crossroad
embellished in white jewel-like
lights, A Prayer For Magic.
This is the essence of prayer.
And now, vertical on the cross,
coming up from below, strips
of printed text, scissored, glued:
“In the still-unfolding field of African-
American quilt making, she has no
of imagination and freedom.”
Below the words, still on the cross,
over red paint, two red buttons.
Returning one’s eyes to hers
on the painting, some from Rex,
some from Rosie, marked, unmarked,
her voice a hymn on the wall,
God permitted me to see this color.
A white thread from Rosie’s needle
falls out of the painting from the bottom.
Rex has glued it, border-breaking--
and this thread remains, subversive,
straightening, permitting eyes to follow.
17 June 2021
Could a been,
Time-then-bound in color
during the plague
simple tools threaded bobbins
scissor and needle
the women, the woman,
odd man othering
amidst the great need gift
pieced around his feet
her blue-blooded eyes
deep-pooled Jesus-filled blossoms
crowned-cloth covering quiet
Rosie Lee Tompkins cloth-shaded
weekend delivered flea market
sister free song, trumpeting Eli, Eli.
Virtual tours of history
on my living room wall
Heaven’s flea market
visual chaos, disparate
central medallion is--
Rosie Lee as Christ through Rex.
Crediting God embedded in camouflaged half-squares
And the Security Guard’s call,
Rex, you’re never gonna finish that painting
Velvet, velveteen strips
Rosie’s dress breaking boundaries,
thread falling to the floor
dropping right out of the painting!--
creating sections within sections
tied front to back
willingness willed eccentricity
innervisions, Stevie Wonder, innervisions
deep state living found fish
Effie Mae Martin-Howard—
Hear Karen on privacy and crazy quilt cohering
Haphazard all-overed-ness homage
Flea market business cards
Crazy Quilts and Pillows All Sizes
Green yellow striped black
lack of alignment
Black orange disturbance
SU ROSTRO SE TRANSFORMÓ,
y su ropa se tornó blanca y radiante
Lucas 9: 29
...his face changed, and his clothes became as bright
as a flash of lightning
Transfiguration in Luke
and then Esther—transpose the 9 and the 6.
Rex DeLoney’s paint.
What part Rex and what part Rosie?
Is and I am.
What Rex calls
A Quilt for Rosie Lee
Palindromic balanced half-squares--
Rex, Rex! And I came to know prayer
before me, they too, the colorists!
Rex, Rosie, Eli.
Wherever you turn your eyes
the world can shine like transfiguration.
Marilynne Robinson, Gilead
Bring courage and look around.
Willed and put there.
On the wall.
Every day, everything.
Clues along the way
and the pool of water.
Enter a room of quilts
with your moody pallet-praise
looking for words
and quilters, uh-huh,
quilters go silent, back inside.
Name changing, scripture--
yo-yo geometry, counting sixes
and pinwheel threads
What was here invisible
ghost-void color coded
Love is like an ice cream cone
it gets better with each lick,
she writes it out in thread,
Rosie Lee Tompkins does,
Culture traveler signal caller
flag fragments whole and broken
Stand with hands on hips
Elbows out, color Seekers
Quilted Worship Door
Those mornings Karen and I sat waiting
in front of the television
discovering these people talking
who knew these quilts among themselves,
...it is good for us to be here…
they knew Rosie in her worship life
the ones she had chosen for family,
the Adventists, their eyes
before these jewel-like creations,
sanctified worship from Jim Crow South,
Rosie’s motrher-teacher, Sadie Lee Dale,
divinely connected, the work of her hands,
zip, meander, back and forth,
forms of identity transcending
bent, broken lines, ordaining
You ordain yourself!
String as lines of light
Beauty leading to justice
Faith facing evil
Colors before us
Coloring our very selves
What we see and hear.
Worship easier now.
Worship easier now, Rex.
The same but not the same.
*From the painting by Rex DeLoney, “A Quilt for Rosie Lee”
Mixed Media on Paper, 22” x 28”
THAT, MY FRIENDS, IS SOMETHING ELSE
The two of you looking like
the athletes you are, fit
long distance lean
handing over those pie cherries
on SunFlower Hill, dusk,
just after 7
as temperature drops
one digit from 109.
Bless the boat
carrying those just picked
How do you pit?
bend tines on old forks.
O to be a pie feeding friends..
Remember, Lucille Clifton says,
this will keep us warm.
But she’s a quilter.
I can make a buttery crust
but thin on fluting
top and bottom together.
To be shaped like the bonsai.
To be fired in the oven like clay.
To have abundance on the tongue
while carrying the stone’s patina.
To have eyes like that.
For Jane and Terry
29 June 2021
‘I HAD TO GET IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME’
Rhiannon Giddens, from the album, Freedom Highway
Cherry Pie, Rhiannon Giddens,
Quilting, Rosie Lee Tompkins,
Karen Bodeen, Lucille Clifton,
Rex DeLoney, Pastor Kathleen Anderson,
Jane Guting and Terry Martin
This isn’t Mingus.
I got hit way back
before that and Rosie Lee
belonging and us to to her
having people over
to meet her had to have
something to eat
that’s how Rhiannon came
to us, song now, song-savoring
power danger, see what Rex did,
anyway, the painting is a quilt
Terry and Jane gave me
those cherries from SunFlower Hill
all my failures rolling out crusts
rushing at me in flour
crashing waves, butter
friage be-devil damned
Karen telling me
Don’t over-work the dough
Waterboy drum bang resonant
Couldn’t stop find more sour
pie cherries, cut the sugar,
measure an extra half-cup
4!/2 cherries tapioca
instead of cornstarch
don’t cook first
flute, fold, crimp, thumb-finger
There ain’t no hammer
I’m gonna but this rock
Luz Belle light my mother too
Jack of Diamonds Rhiannon singing
B. B. King’s Guitar
Clifton’s 12 fingered prophecy cry
whose hands touch me now
will turn to flowers
No matter how hard I tried
Jesus I couldn’t never
make mama happy
You want to see poems
laid out on a page what
Kevin Young does to Lucille’s
well that pie is a poem
that song with the Spaniard’s
guitar backing Rhiannon
that’s what Young does
on 700-plus pages
of Lucille Clifton’s Collected
Gloss demanding underline
notes made me find something
different dream like coding
mimicking Young’s vision
Lucille, Mama, all this light from you
mama Lucille, Rosie
dots and marked geographically
word thoughts allowed below
page numbers Rosie Lee Tompkins
looking down towards me
eyes on kitchen island
shy herself her pool always
filling all the time filling
pie crust holding its crimp
and folding almond hint
alchemy free jazz prayer magic
SITTING IN THE BUTTERSCOTCH CHAIR
BETWEEN KAREN AND ROSIE LEE TOMPKINS
Karen in her chair, Rosie Lee on the wall.
Two quilters of faith. Two who belong
to something I don’t fully understand.
Calling them fabric artists
is a kind of obscenity. Two quiet ones.
A painting by colorist Rex DeLoney
and birthday gift for Karen.
That’s wrong, too.
Blessed now. Rosie Lee, Karen, Rex.
Quilts, color, paint. Looking and seeing.
Looking at her this morning
getting used to her presence.
Being here. Being.
Ester and Gilbert coming through her eyes.
Her eyes, Ester said, Black people
read the world looking through
a person’s eyes. Gilbert
mentions the imagination.
So much is in the imagination of the artist.
Sterling Brown’s Strong men.
Rosie Lee’s strong vision.
It will be hot today, hotter than yesterday
and tomorrow will be hotter
than today. We’re burning,
beautiful thing, the earth is on fire.
The woman grabbed Jesus clothes
and he asked, Who touched me.
Others coming today to look at your eyes.
What will they bring? Karen,
sitting with you at coffee,
Rosie Lee looking down at you
from our wall from a quilt,
surrounded by your quilts,
both of us warmed, warned,
content, she is, in fact,
with your mother, coming from her.
And me, I have Williams and Flossie
with us, too, his asphodel, ours,
for you, a lifetime,
great love arriving
like that, come my sweet, to sing for you.
Ground temperatures hit 118 degrees
in the Arctic Circle. We’re quilted,
the two of us, air conditioned,
in the time of rising sea levels
and mudslides collapsing los marginados,
margins everywhere disappeared.
Rosie Lee Tompkins come from God
who gave her eyes to see color
was also given this, The pool
is giving birth to itself all the time,
words in blue paint chosen color
on Rex’s brush. You write the elegant
words on white paper, placing them
on your water colors as you paint.
The framer covers it all up
to square it with his limited world
betraying faith’s insistence and belief,
in our planet’s resurrection, his
world first cousin to insurrection
and order. Oh, I get it, he says,
I totally get it. In tears, Rosie
still not with us, arriving, not
arriving, I say, Take it apart,
give her to us as Rex painted her.
This painting come to us
through the quilted dream body.
Correct, in-surrect. Resurrect.
Rectitude. The associations
and their song and heel click
from our youth. Direct
re-direct. Right path, straightened.
Lucille Clifton calls this world unknown,
threading together her need
and her needle wondering
if her daughters’ daughters quilt.
Rosie Lee Tompkins is with us.
She comes from the artist’s brushes.
She has a place in our family.
She is part of us, she sees us
in our becoming, she too
is coming into herself.
You too, are with us, Rex DeLoney,
old friend with Little Rock roots.
Your quilts, Karen, Clifton’s foregone knowing.
This pieced partnership. This material
from a patched-up world, drawn to you,
mysterious and quiet in full color.
TO THE QUILTER, LUCILLE CLIFTON,
WHO CAME ON BOARD WITH THE BLESSING OF THE BOATS
Your poems arrive with pie cherries
from a friend. The dedication, BF,
ma, mommy, grandma, lu,
on pages laid out with so much space
each line relaxes into itself,
your embracing arms.
Michael Glaser and Kevin Young careful.
My mother’s name, Lucille.
A granddaughter, 15, with your names in the middle.
A foundation and brick. Book coming in at 769 pages,
and this is betterness
These are good times
and when these poems come out
I’m just back from Viet Nam,
still don’t know how I found them.
my mama moved among the days
like a dream walker in a field
you’re born in 1936, where I’m going,
quilter. The Colorist Rex DeLoney
brings Colorist Rosie Lee Tompkins
into our family with a painting
he calls Quilt for Rosie Lee,
you two born in the same year,
you two shaping ways we breathe.
Rosie Lee faces my wife Karen,
two quilters while I read
somewhere in the other where
lines collapsing around
the yellow-eyed woman
looking at us in a living room
where/ alchemists mumble over pots
Your uncollected poems up front
and throughout, the R.I.P.
5/23/67 for Langston
Oh who gone remember now like it was
the early capital letters, Dear Mama,
all that i do
i do for you
Adhering to gift principles
the gift must always move
poems and quilts blessed by the pastor
they’re all women now
Lucille entering with Rosie Lee
my mother Lucille, too,
like she just got off the bus.
House full of Cele and Lucy and Lu.
Mysterious Luz Belle, smiles
all around coming from El Salvador,
these blessings moving things around
every poet envious of shaman fingers
I get your poems for the pastor
leaving songs of Rhiannon Giddens
by your portrait on jacket of the book.
I read your Crazy Horse poems.
Spirit bird women all
I promise pastor a slice of cherry pie.
What’s going on here in poems
happens in needle and thread,
happens in pillow cases
Tony Morrison chides scholars.
Where’s the work on Clifton?
Page beautiful forces my read in kind.
Tiny mirrored squared bullets in black ink.
look i am the one what burned down the dew drop inn
I would write on that line and the willie poems
Precision of voice and story, direct line to and from danger
with a truckload of library credibility
and direct access to archives.
Liminal space on pages with time to breathe and recover between poems.
Burning pages. Women at kitchen table. Cherry pie.
In the meantime. I’d go there. Already and Not Yet.
Old Testament witness
Animal blood, night vision, certainties
All that is uncollected belonging and here, part of us,
merciful meaning, mean, meantime
All for mama, all of it, quilts taken down from walls warming,
scholarship of the heart mama’s burning poems remaining
ART AND POLITICS.
THE PASTOR’S HUSBAND
also a pastor in the Midwest
who left after his sermon
to spend a couple of days
with his wife who’s
our interim pastor.
Perhaps I’m drawn
to her situation
because of my own itinerant
status however suspicious
my credentials. As we surface
from prayers delivering
emanating color and justice
we turn to music,
to Miles, Coltrane,
the surrounding fabric
on walls, binding us
flavored by charcoal,
wafting incense swirling
talking about 1968.
The pastor’s husband
has a photograph on his wall
of Robert Kennedy in Portland
days before his assassination.
My father took me,
I was about seven.
I remembered pictures
and sure enough,
my father was in
the photograph with Kennedy.
No, my father wasn’t political,
He went to see Rosie Greer.
Dad was a fan.
TWO PROPHETS OF 1936
These two women
in our living room
showing us how
Rosie Lee Tompkins
quilter and poet
what’s the difference
quilter and poet
poet and quilter
born in 1936,
out of time
TWICE EASTER: LITTLE
ROCK TO YAKIMA: FOOT-STOMPING MATTER
THIS IS THE DAY THE LORD HAS MADE,
TWICE EASTER, 2021, A SUITE OF POEMS
for pastors Jewel R. Withers, Jr. & Kathleen Anderson
Little Rock, Arkansas—Yakima, Washington
and for Rex Deloney, Colorist, Little Rock, Arkansas, &
Karen Bodeen, Fabric artist, Yakima
AFTERWARD OR FORWARD
Walking the yard, pruner in your old leather
holster, lopper in hand, that Monday
after Easter, how was it? You stopped,
as always, by the Hinoki Cedar
and bonsai-like, Pinus Contortis, lost
in trunk diameter beauty, foolishly probing
ungloved hands into the pine
after dead needles, giving new growth
a better chance for sunlight. More
meditation than prayer. More nature
than Christ, even as you believe
without doubting, Christ-presence
in the branch? How was it, Easter?
LET THEM EAT CAKE?
Twice blessed Easter, This is the day
the Lord has made, twice. Worship
streaming from your native place,
and again, from Rex in Little Rock.
This is the day the Lord has made,
three days, Friday to Sunday, and while
the faithful wait out Saturday,
you get married children and grandchildren,
out door and verified proof of new life’s
transfigurations. Stones, cairns, boulders
marking way, nothing hidden, no one
waiting for anything except cake,
early baked in your oven, new
recipe, coconut cream injected
to sweeten what’s already sweet,
Flaked coconut spread over whipped
cream. This is the day that the Lord
has made a day early.
with a fabric artist, your friends
poets, painters, jewelers, surrounded
by all desire that may be delivered.
Sol y sombra, you move at will
from beauty to beauty, silence and word.
Let them eat cake.
“SUCH, SUCH WERE THE JOYS…” WILLIAM BLAKE
Such are the joys of listeners,
great inheritors of Catherine
and William Blake up through fabric
artists come through the rural south
the quilter Rosie Lee Tompkins,
and Alice Walker’s two sisters arguing
what’s to be done with Mama’s quilts
in the story Every Day Use--
frame and bequeath them in wills
or wrap bodies warm, exhausting
their threads so you may better know
the cost of your grandmother’s love?
Among the questions, Eli Leon.
Eli Leon, her champion.
They meet at a flea market
in Oakland, red thread
among everything gold.
These questions, along with similar
others, are your only unknowns
waiting for sunrise on Easter morning.
You are the one who remembers
the Jim Harrison poem. You still
hold out for more justice, Easter Morning,
proud, poor white peasants, where
we come from, who we are, frying potatoes
in bacon grease, joining the army
for the GI bill in exchange
for being shot at. The dice.
Listening first from your butterscotch
chair in the living room, with your notebook,
the visiting pastor, an interim you haven’t
bothered to meet, Kathleen Anderson,
her name, baptizing a child, breaks out
into giggles, overcome with joy
before the baby, surrounded by family.
She giggles again reading Mark’s gospel.
Pout and be gone, poetry man—your wife
feels what you cannot on Easter. More
proof in how much you are loved.
throw water from palm branches on all.
Worship again while you walk. Following
worship reading from Eddie Glaude Jr.,
the black professor’s rare book,
Uncommon Faith: A Pragmatic Approach
to the Study of African American Religion.
You, who have had late coffee and oranges
with your wife of half a century, Sunday
Morning, carrying Wallace Stevens.
You, who hears Duke Ellington play,
Come Sunday, coming through Archie Shepp’s horn.
My Lord, what a morning. Rare book,
headphones in your ears, Church of God in Christ,
walking Yakima in Little Rock,
this may be your come to Jesus moment
on Easter, walking the neighborhood in clothes
hand-sewn by your artist wife. Hand-carved
walking stick from a cottonwood tree
from the hands of the ancestor-griot himself,
your friend, Gil Chandler. Walk,
my privileged friend, listen.
Holy Temple Cathedral, where the distance
is worth the difference. Rex brings me
through the door. Senior pastor
Bishop Jewel R. Withers Jr.
Hand clapping. Foot-stopping.
Clap hands, clap hands.
Far from shoreline, but the boat,
the boat’s right—get in the boat
Getting through Saturday.
Rex the colorist. Artist, painter, pilgrim.
Coach too? He did some coaching.
Brush man. Jesus man.
Saturday’s the day my children
will be here, the pastor’s wife says.
Saturday’s my Sunday.
Jesus understands. Jesus
knows all the Sunday songs.
Resisting breath is resisting God
Resisting white supremacy.
Easter’s uncommon faith provides.
To be otherwise. Being so.
A yes to how broken we really are.
On my Easter morning porch,
Professor Glaude, cup in hand,
Pragmatism encounters the underside…
Thrown into the messiness
of living. Who’s that behind him?
Is that, no, could it be Howard Thurman?
This, the invocation of Jesus,
a distinctive form of Christ,
a change of will, no longer content.
No longer resigned—daring
to be otherwise--
otherwise with the green light of no guarantee
Walking the development with earphones
This is Easter Sunday in Little Rock
after the song--
way out, way through, way maker,
man on a walk, man in a pew
looking at the back side, beginning.
“They didn’t kill him,” Bishop Withers says,
“He died on his own terms. Those sad ones,
living in the past. When my wife
hands me a jar that’s too tight,
I’m not giving it back until it’s open.”
Use everything. Women smiling, men chuckling,
that tiniest crack acknowledges the past in the moment.
We stand on diseased, distorted and deformed ground,
directed against us, here where a different way
of being in the world, a made-possible us,
in new space, a foundation made of shards.
Walking the Sunday yard, sun-stoned, altared
To save us from ourselves
Blessed by the question that carries
Eat long, as long as I can
Live Easter, as long as we can
The Lutheran pastor now, singing camp songs
from the pulpit, Pastor Kathleen,
So high you can’t get over it.
You gotta come in through the door.
Door, door space, threshold aha back at you.
The women knew exactly which tomb
overwhelmed by trauma and ecstasy.
Cross-companion every day.
She asks, What else really matters?
In the garden
you can say it twice
What else matters.
This is Easter.
Little Rock Yakima Easter.
WHAT ELSE REALLY MATTERS?*
*Pastor Kathleen Anderson
Reading sandwich recipes on the telephone
I may think that I want to read.
A small yellow-bellied finch
lands on bird bath with fresh water.
Another one waits on a nearby branch
of the Ed Wood Half-Moon Maple.
Sunday morning. Come Sunday.
Ellington wrote it for Mahalia.
It’s for all of us. Kathleen Battle
and Johnny Mathis. Ben Webster
and Oscar Peterson. That’s the day.
Finch in the birdbath. Finch in the maple.
Old man in the lawn chair with coffee.
Surrounded by Easter-image music blind.
Practicing in paradise.
This glimpse of the accessible, accessed,
if only in the doorway, glimpsed.
What resurrection is.
Before me in the safety of my own house, a quilter
and the story of Rosie Lee Tompkins.
Rosie Lee Tompkins, from Gould,
74 miles from Little Rock. And Rex.
But beautiful. Clap hands.
Unknowns and risks in every color.
Walk me to the threshold.
The gospel of what shows up
The gospel of who in wonder.
4-14 April 2021–10 May 2021
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