God is speaking to us but
in a foreign language.
In all the world there is no oak tree
like the one in your village. You called it
by a name and watched summer
and thunder come through its leaves.
When you leave, it is standing there still,
a tree worth more than other trees.
Things are not equal, but they can be.
Never hush the small mouth in your heart
when it cries out that what is right must be better.
Kiss that small mouth. It is your one true love.
To say with shining eyes “because of you” to a man
need be no kind of idolatry.
A man’s violence may do violence to the Deity in your eyes.
Why shouldn’t another man by speaking softly heal it?
A body that used to belong to a name
is a hole in the universe through which stars leak
even if he was only a large, blonde dog
who smelled like an old puddle
and ravaged each new plot of petunias
as fast as they went into the ground.
For days you will think about his stone on the hill
with a mad loneliness nothing can touch.
This is our best cause for hope.
Whatever you may have heard,
things are not getting worse and worse,
only different and different.
Each difference must be assessed
on its own merits. For example:
babies couched in a wasteland
of blue lights. For example:
some women bubble their ballots
edge to edge, firm as a handshake,
full as a floodlight; their grandmothers
believed this day would come.
In spite of everything, don’t lose your faith
in a table circumferenced with friends.
It is easy to forgive almost anyone you knew
when they were a child and the two of you
played tag until twilight in a knot of belonging
and poured in fat innertubes down the sugared hill
and there was never enough time, never.
The way things look matters less and less
when it becomes apparent that you will die.
Today, tomorrow, or in seventy years, but certainly
before you can prepare it for houseguests,
you must hand over the keys to your soul.
In the end, not one of our secrets will be kept.
When your eyes have softened to whatever they see,
you will begin to understand what she is saying.