Poetry

By Pam Bookstaber


Joseph

Meanly born mid smells of wood and frost
But rapt in other-worldly parents’ love
Issue of pain and element.
Ordained and prophesied he grew,
Unknown, the wounds unseen;
Line on line the rough stone smoothed,
Faced angry cries and flashing fists,
Surrounded by a sacred wood.

Carthage

When oak accepts a stain, it holds tenacious.
Smoke clears. Panic scatters blackened faces
like the butcher shrike explodes a sparrow
flock. The wounded man waits, hidden in narrow
silence: “I want you to live. Tell the world
how trust was slain by treachery.” Outside,
reluctant cicadas resume their hum,
measuring the humid afternoon. Warm
echoes filter past the shattered door: “Bullets
shall fly like hail, your friends fall left and right.”
Far off, in deep woods, the lonely cuckoo
mourns for Carthage, for new widows in Nauvoo,
for innocent martyrdom, staining bright
the jailhouse floor. Oak never forgets.

Threshold

Standing there at the summit,
he must have wavered at
the Abundance:
his eyes being pinholes of a finer light,
eclipsing all the pains
and soon to be ripened sorrows.
He stood, discerning.
And those eyes were eyes of wisdom:
More than fleeting glimpses,
the visions were whole majestic paintings.
Landscapes,
that were not only meant to be,
but had to be.
Brother Joseph sought the Eastward winds,
his heightened sense of time recalling
Galilee;
and the days before,
and the days since.
Now the songs of old would trumpet,
resound through all the Earth, and
be the last of all great melodies.
But the last is the fruit of the vine,
for he stood on the Threshold
of the Fulness of Times.