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          III. Time

          "He has made everything beautiful in its time.
          Also He has put eternity in their hearts,
          except that no one can find out the work that God
          does from beginning to end." --Ecclesiastes 3:11, NKJV

          "For I am God and there is no other...declaring the end from beginning"--Isaiah 46:9-10, NRSV
          * * * * *

          Simple places

          The longer
          time grows
          as wisteria
          for the nearest
          anchor yet
          to be,
          the more
          events grown
          reach up tall
          and shadow
          all the rest--
          these blossom
          into corner stones:
          places where
          foundations join,
          and render
          simple places,

          * * * * *

          "And if Mary did have freedom of choice, when would she [be] likely to exercise it? At the Annunciation? When she had born her child? At a moment of suckling, while Jesus was still an infant? Once she accepted, must she not carry her burden from that moment until the day that her child was crucified? ... He decided that he would carve Mary at the moment of decision..."
          -- Irving Stone, The Agony and The Ecstasy, on Michelangelo's sculpture the "Madonna of the Stairs"

          "Since his Christ was to be life size, how was Mary to hold him on her lap without the relationship seeming ungainly? His Mary would be slender of limb and delicate of proportion, yet she must hold this full--grown--man as securely and convincingly as she would a child...
          "Though this sculpture must take place thirty--three years after her moment of decision, he could not conceive of her as a woman in her mid--fifties ... His image of the Virgin had always been that of a young woman..."
          -- Irving Stone, The Agony and The Ecstasy, on Michelangelo's sculpture the "Pieta"
          * * * * *


          Traveling near
          the speed of sound
          couched in
          the heights
          of a clear blue
          jet stream
          time is passed
          in glossy magazines--
          here the
          traveler's ad
          shows a cradled
          infant with man's
          head --it speaks
          of service
          passed in the
          instant of an
          newborn's dream.

          I am reminded of
          the young Madonna
          holding the Son
          who has died
          beyond her years--
          the sculptor speaks
          to us of the
          revealing across
          more than thirty
          compressed into
          this mother's loving
          at the newborn.

          So this ancient, sacred hall,
          this cavern that stretches
          beyond the masterpiece
          is marked at the far end
          as the near
          by hands fixed to a
          Yet sitting here,
          with mind jumping
          from page to dog-eared
          page, is not
          the sculpture
          does not
          It is at
          mass compressed
          so tightly
          it holds the light within
          as a black hole in
          the galaxy
          where gravity grasps
          and squeezes it
          to diamonds.

          We are flying to
          Eden now
          to the place, the birth
          that came "at once,"
          when the gardener
          called for light,
          the cover of the
          book fell open
          and words began to
          scramble up and out,
          over the edge,
          as if escaping
          into the plot
          from the destination
          that is the end.
          Now we begin
          to understand.

          * * * * *

          "I do not know which to prefer,
          The beauty of inflections
          Or the beauty of innuendoes,
          The blackbird whistling
          Or just after." --Wallace Stevens


          Is it the peace
          that comes at morning,
          before the town awakes,
          or the one that follows sunset,
          after the last cardinal
          sounds its call?
          Could be the quiet
          before falling off
          to dreamful sleep--
          or the slow stretch
          after a Sunday nap
          when the house is yours alone?
          Is it the calm
          in the summer air
          before the pounding squall
          or the purple
          smell of ozone
          after the thunder's gone?
          Perhaps the lovers' pause
          across the candle light
          knowing they will now retire,
          or the soft sigh
          that follows ragged breathing
          on the sparking coals of passion?
          No, It's the soft gurgle
          of a newborn
          before the cry--
          or the tiny gulp and gasp
          after grabbing the warm breast
          with his hungry lips?
          Then it's the serene
          contentment of two friends
          sipping tea at four--
          or the silence
          that follows the forgiven
          angry word?

          Maybe the pause
          before the trumpet
          sounds the Armageddon note
          or the stillness
          as the dust of battles
          floats to earth at last?
          Is it the peace
          of a child's sleeping
          or the embrace
          of an old man
          who has breathed his last?
          No, it's the peace
          of Eden before
          the fratricide;
          no, the stillness
          of Easter morning,
          before the tongues are flamed.

          * * * * *

          "Young lovers seek perfection
          Old lovers learn the art of sewing
          shreds together,
          and of seeing beauty
          in a multiplicity of patches."
          --from "How to Make an American Quilt," the screen play, based on the book by Whitney Otto

          These sheets

          These sheets of white
          hold letters stitched
          across the wide open
          in ebony words
          and spoken in long
          short on recitation
          in the lives they tell

          These sheets may be
          up to the
          as trans--
          of ancient
          or they can be
          upright along the earthy
          and joined at mitered
          where they rise to white
          as a lean--to of hands
          pointing to the sky.

          Table of Contents

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