La sombra del ala / The shadow of the wing
by Amado Nervo, translated from Spanish, first published in Tinderbox Poetry JournalYou who think I don’t believe
when we two feud
do not imagine my desire,
my thirst, my hunger for God;
nor have you heard my desolate
cry that echoes through
the inner place of shadow,
calling on the infinite;
nor do you see my thought
laboring in ideal genesis,
frequently in distress
with throes of light.
If my sterile spirit
could own your power of birth,
by now — I would have columned heaven
to perfect your earth.
But tell me, what power stows
within a flagless soul
to carry anywhere at all
its torturer — who knows? —
that keeps a fast from faith,
and with valiant integrity
goes on asking every depth
and every darkness, why?
Notwithstanding, I am shielded
by my thirst for inquiry —
my pangs for God, cavernous and unheard;
and there is more love in my unsated
doubt than in your tepid certainty.
first published in AnimaAfter a while,
we saw a gleam of source
through the trees.
There was a shining interval
amid the densities —
a clarity of light
and air and quiet water.
tall and clustering
along the hem.
where our steps sank
in a stir of golden fern.
through slanted gossamer
that blurred the wind.
God watched us and
we sensed Him,
till the clearing interrupted
I heard it whisper there,
and go on
the road home
first published in AvocetThe mountains, faded like a bruise
against late sky, were mute while its intenser hues
glowed on their brim. The sky’s flushed hem
hung down and hushed the mountains.
The fields had been wrenched open
by the ploughmen.
They were obscured: only my knowledge
of them under noon light, dredged
with blades, broken in simple lines,
still shaped their immanence out of the blind
land. High overhead and huge and spare
a sickle moon swung: the whole weight of air
was garnered in its curve.
Paler and sharper blue, dove
grey and thunderhead, star-rinsed,
quenched — the sky was graded.
The mountains, so immense, were low and small.
Only a line of heavier material.
Only a handful.
the Joseph tree
first published in AssisiI know what came of Joseph’s coat —
after it had been torn and dipped in goat
blood, after it dripped the deepest dye of pain
into an old man’s troubled lifespan —
God gathered it up, too precious to be lost.
For God knows what it cost
to have a son torn out of his coat.
He unwove the fibers and he
sewed them through a tree.
The leaves came out in brilliant hues
worn around perforated sinews —
a cloak of all the colors in the thread,