Most fragile when it is fresh
most frail when fate
has forced it
to the tightrope
of dizzying walk
or wavering doubt,
where success does not
Three misdirected travelers on the street, strangers,
we bore the bitter wind until our cheeks
were raw and chapped, and ducked
into the darkened entrance of a shop
to drop our shoulders into place
and rub the ice from our faces,
and discovered the slender shivering frame
of a lost soul clothed in spring cottons and sandals.
He refused shelter and money, so one gave his cap,
another his mitts and dressed the man's feet,
and I the inner layer of my coat.
Three strangers, we looked at each other like brothers,
but dared not speak as if to violate the rule:
we live ultimately alone.
Hunching our shoulders and rounding our backs
we bore the bitter wind once again
until one corner unraveled our travel
into thirds, and with it the warmth,
which for birds and beasts in winter
only comes by huddling. A spark flared
within me and I looked two ways to share,
but they were lost beyond lamplight.
How close to celebrating God's birth
I had come, I knew.
Song for the Tongue
Dull, dusty taste of the field.
Bland is bread.
But thank you God that wine
we are fed
and the apples and the fish and the cheese
that we eat
are made delicious by the chaste