To Calm to the Rhythm of Tide In - Tide Out
Esther wants more time at the shore,
more time to wander beach and woods,
take the day in the curve of land called
a depression in the sand.
She builds a fort where hawthorn circle
and gulls cry and rests her back against
white beginning to grey, beginning to bog
where the sluice drains into the bay.
While the town is entirely her own,
she claims the expectorant of cough
from what is not big enough to be called a creek,
but only a trickle through reeds.
She wants to solve a mystery so intricate
she will ultimately go West until it becomes
threads in a Navajo blanket, no loom
big enough to hold what she spins.
She starts early, by herself, sitting as if on a cross-
country train traveling America,
arrives rested if slightly lonely, her mind open,
all the past wrapped up into a larger weave.
Trepanation: Holes Drilled Into Skull
as Ancient Cure for Epilepsy
Mother slammed into a Philadelphia bridge
on skates at the end of crack-the-whip,
a span built by Great-grandfather Boyd
for the Phoenixville Iron Works.
The Apostle Paul could have been trepanned
after the fall on the way to Damascus,
drill to skull the treatment for seizures
that saw a god where before there was a man.
By 1929, Phenobarbital had replaced
a burr hole to head, and Mother’s parents
walked her from church to church
as they did to school in case of relapse,
Catholic for her father, Episcopal for the glow
of candle chandeliers near the Liberty Bell,
and Brethren for her mother. They saw God
everywhere they went.
Nagging cynicisms enveloped their thoughts.
I was the last baptized, my sister was not.
I led her across the only busy road where
we moved to a village with no traffic lights.
Born blind by any legal definition,
I took her to every church until we settled
on one that didn’t think it strange—
two unaccompanied children of 6 and 8.
If “merciful church of the hooves of horses,” was written,
what would follow, but a monastery in the desert
where the road is impassable in all but the driest weather
and voices cannot reach to stars because what’s left
of foliage blocks the path, limbs on the backs of gods
painted gold with autumn cottonwood and aspen.
Virginia creeper climbs the outside walls, affixes
tendrils, shades the high southern slant of sun.
It came in a pocket of faith that wants to remember home.
The gardener takes it down one Sunday,
says it penetrates even the sturdiest bricks, brings disease
in its clutter at the bottom. You miss its shade.
Winter birds miss its berries. The same gardener
takes out all the sage, says it’s too woody.
You wanted to trim it for turkeys wandering
the hills since before we were here.
I order The Book of Common Prayer.
It comes in a plain wrapper,
does not indicate the shipper.
The young people next door
cease cursing in the driveway.
I am happy with the delivery.
Only rap music comes from
the car radio while they tinker.
Each morning I write up against
the old window’s wavy glass.
I try and decipher sounds and their
silence from the makeshift garage,
look for what the rhythm mimics,
the buzz of bees at the sage
or the gardener who takes it down
to the roots. Everything is holy.
Kyle Laws practices contemplative prayer in the Benedictine tradition she studied at monasteries in Colorado and New Mexico. She read and responded to the psalms with poetry during her studies. A number of the poems were published as Going into Exile in a chapbook supplement to the journal Abbey.
Other collections include Faces of Fishing Creek (Middle Creek Publishing); This Town: Poems of Correspondence with Jared Smith (Liquid Light Press); So Bright to Blind (Five Oaks Press); Wildwood (Lummox Press); My Visions Are As Real As Your Movies, Joan of Arc Says to Rudolph Valentino (Dancing Girl Press); and George Sand’s Haiti (co-winner of Poetry West’s 2012 award). With six nominations for a Pushcart Prize, her poems and essays have appeared in magazines and anthologies in the U.S., U.K., and Canada. She is the editor and publisher of Casa de Cinco Hermanas Press.
More on Kyle Law’s work can be found on our Links page.