Sunday, April 26, 2009

An occasion

So I'm supposed to be sleeping in a cabin in the woods right now. My church had a retreat. I was there last night, but I felt ill and came home early.

"Oh, good," I thought. "I'll have time to write my poem." Time is one thing; motivation is quite another. I finally got going less than 45 minutes ago. At least I started before midnight.

Writer's Digest: write about an event, I think it said, or an occasion. This is another minefield for mawkishness, for autobiography that matters to no one besides the auto, for a Jenga-tower of cliche. And I have not done my subject justice. But the story is a lovely one.

Flower Communion

After the war, Maja Capek returned to Prague
to join her husband, Norbert. She was never again
to touch him.

Born Catholic, raised Baptist, turned Unitarian,
he had been taken to the Priesterblock of Dachau
and died among others so heretical
as to follow their consciences.

He left behind a custom. When spring is reborn
you walk out to the yard, or maybe to the market,
or perhaps to the roadside,
to find one blossom.

You take it to the sanctuary,
where the skilled hands of warm-faced ladies,
or maybe the fumbling fingers of a youth group,
arrange it with the others in a bucket.

You listen as an old story is told,
a tale of a man who found a way to unite
the motley, the ephemeral, in remembrance.

You stand in the queue until
a minister, or a child, or someone—
it doesn’t matter who—
hands you a flower.

You look at the flower.

Maybe you traded up. Maybe you feel cheated.
You quickly realize that market value,
skilled cultivation, even perfume
all cease to matter. The flower is the conduit
from hand to hand.

No comments: