Though fingers fly,
economy of movement
is prized by musicians,
whose daily practice and rehearsal
carve the shortest path
from one note to the next,
rushing water rounding
chimes as it wears
down rock.

Air blowing through
the instrument’s bore
cues the fingers to lift
as breath is released
and replenished.

Do runner’s feet remember
the rhythm of the race,
soles lifting off as rehearsed?

The palm of the drummer’s hand
beats the stretched hide
but it’s absence of contact
that allows the drumhead to resonate.

Even planets and stars in orbit
practice an economy of motion,
each sphere contoured
to receive and reflect light.

Yet love proves the exception.
Love, extravagant as the stars
of the Milky Way, knows no economy.
Like snowmelt rushing over rocks,
love’s ceaseless energy
sustains all, carves rock,
fills the deep ocean bed,
crowns mountaintops with clouds.
Without it, life would cease.

Even so, I’ve seen the oxbow curves,
and know that love rebuffed
charts a new course.

The Way

The way lilacs
bloom after frost

the way light
shines in the darkness

the way the sun
never sets

the way the heart
withstands fire

then shakes
the ashes down

like ashes
from my uncle’s pipe

like ashes from the hearth,
swept clean

A Beginning

The apron is slung
over the chair back
like the guitar strap
you tossed aside.

If our life were a ballad
surely there’d be
a highwayman who took off
with our treasure.

But come evening
still we’d find
fire in the hearth,
and bread, and song.

Each Little Breath

Each year on Maundy Thursday,
we read the mandate to love.
Each year when we read the text,
I realize I am not any closer
to loving you
than I was the year before.

Outside, wind whips my hair
across my face,
but my hair is not long.
I have not poured
perfume over your feet,
or dried your feet
with my hair.

Though, in my way of thinking,
we love with each little breath:
the way the bird dips his wings in the air,
or the way the mother washes her child.
The way trees grow towards the light
even as interwoven branches conspire to block it.

It’s what we do without thinking that defines us:
The straight tree coiled into a nest,
Peter’s foot balanced
in Jesus’ hand.

But late last summer,
once the fledglings
emptied from the nest,
the wind shook the nest
to the ground,
and when I held the nest
in cupped hands,
I saw strands of my hair
wound tightly, coiled
and interwoven
into the hollow

wherein eggs had hatched.