You shall turn again to earth.
(Christina Rossetti, “For Advent”)
Before leaving for our new home, we take
the last year’s compost and distribute
rich, fermenting soil across our garden bed,
while lawn – parched from summer – longs weakly for green.
I too am parched and though
made of mud I cannot rest in dirt
until the heat is passed.
And so I long
for earth to reform, reconstitute
my barren bones and take dead seed
to make things new again.
Moving always, I crave endless home,
crave dwelling beneath Your rain.
The sun beating heavily on our heads, we felt
the agony of things straining against themselves,
felt the longing but not the reward and grew
weary of the day.
When I spoke, it was gravel in my throat.
“Show me,” I demanded, “the length of these days.
Show me the end.” And the sun
did not relent in its frenzied beaming
while the aching rhythm in my joints was murmuring,
“Soon. His time is soon.”
For Thou art in the wilderness
Drawing and leading Thine Own love…
(Christina Rossetti, “The Chiefest Among Ten Thousand”)
The barren land will bear fruit
but now, in this waiting time, I must go
where barrenness still lingers
to meet with You who chose this
of all the compass points in creation,
of every nook of the ever-expanding universe –
chose this place, and this flesh.
I will go where You are found
and I will go to find Your face,
the Rose of Sharon set against the thistles,
the morning sun at heat of day.
My eyes have seen
yet my heart forgets,
eager to assume the worst.
I would be Simeon and yet
dismiss the word
Only let me see, I pray,
yet choke to hear the words.
Sight is not faith; I must hold on
to all my hope deferred and keep
vigil with what mercy shows.
Do not dismiss me yet.
Bulbs in soil await the spring,
and fruit awaits the sun,
parched earth waits for thunderstorm
and watchmen wait for dawn.
Guilt awaits the gavel’s fall,
fear awaits the dreaded thing,
hope waits for what is not seen
and voices wait to sing.
The busy spirit does not wait;
“Time waits for no-one,” it will shout.
Impatience sooner dies than waits,
and reason tends to doubt.
My soul awaits the morning light,
as flowers droop until the day.
In fear and trembling I await;
make wilderness. Make way.
...we are almost ready to fall in love with our own desolation.
(Christina Rossetti, Seek and Find)
Whether height of summer or bleak midwinter, there’s death:
in bare-branched trees or brittle grass.
Fire or frost, the end’s the same,
both killers and destroyers alike.
And the greatest foe of all’s despair,
the sickness blighting not only this
but every future season’s crop.
There’s a sickness that can end in life,
that kills illusions, opens eyes.
Wisest farmers wait their time
and learn the seasons’ darkest signs.
Wiser still the one who turns
despair of here to hope beyond.
Truth be told, we forgot all about the axe.
Busy with our landscaping and renovations, we
neglected our gardens, all tangles of weeds
and fruit trees budding nothing while we poisoned the soil.
No surprise to find that it should come to this,
the moment of reckoning when our garden would judge.
Yet we were golden and glimmering,
felt eternal for too long.
The ending was never a flicker of thought,
the last things were the last things
on our minds.