Poetry

by Susan Savage


Shepherd

Come, little hills of Nazareth,
and slopes of Galilee,
and lilting waves and drifting birds
that crown the fishers’ sea
to hail with April’s glory
Him who made the blind to see.
Spring has crept in across the land;
the colts and calves press near,
voicing their newness,
asking for warmth
in the half-winter, half-spring year
alive with wind and the song of life
where He made the deaf
to hear.
And out on the hills
a shepherd walks along among the sheep,
for the chilly winds of lambing time
would stir them from their sleep;
in the home of the Master Shepherd
he would the night watch keep.
Oh, Shepherd kind,
be not gone far
for the nights chill now,
as then.
Bless our eyes with sight,
our ears to hear past the hollower shouts of men;
and strengthen our arms
to lift each other out
of the tombs again.

Sonnet IV

When sunlight probes my eyelids after dawn,
It is so hard to open them to see
This empty day and know that I will be
In empty rooms and find your shadows gone
With yesterday still close. A bitter blow
That memories now are but a thing of dust.
Tears sting my eyes with pain of broken trust,
For you are gone where I shall never go.
Sometimes a whisper comes to me to tell
My spirit of an angel loved by God,
A son of morning, light to worlds that fell,
And tore hearts with him, sound of one-third’s laud.
So comes again a thought I cannot shake—
How big must be a heart that will not break?

Swans

The stillness, feathered in the hush of trees,
Should have carried our voices on the mist
To where they swam, figurines on glass, and
Turned them to us; easy as you turned to me
When we first met. Instead they swam away.
Sometimes they come in shades of lilac gray
As dusky as a winter’s setting sun
To cross my lake in dreams. They bring a hush
From that cold lake where they once swam,
Where we loved once, and once I turned away.

Security

I would like to go
where the star runs with the river
and all the things I know
are season, gift, and giver.
I would like to stay
where a tree is heaven-sharing
and all the prayers I pray
are calm and country-caring.
I would like to sieve
soul and seed together
so that each day I live
may be good growing weather.

The Plowman in Silence

The plowman, in silence following his plow,
listens to the bright blade turn the spring-soft earth.
The oxen groan.
Taut reins sing in the breeze.
At the sharp cry of a jay he turns toward the grove
to see a boy, walking slowly
as if burdened by heavy questions,
disappear among the trees, being enfolded in gentle green.
Not hearing the whispered prayer,
the gentle introduction,
and seeing nothing brighter than the sun,
he thinks the day not unlike another.
(Three more acres to plow and the morning wears on.)
At dusk,
driving the oxen home,
he listens to the barking of a dog,
not hearing the rejoicing of the heavens,
the singing of the stars.

Sunrise

When morning sun peeks
through the leaves,
And sprinkles itself
in yellow freckles on the fence.

Call to Repentance

Slight pressure “no”
had stirred my know.
But was it really really no?
Perhaps I need
to think it out,
to listen for a louder shout.
There are others
doing such.
And anyway
an if and but
might very well apply
to me,
because,
because,
well, I am me.
And circumstances
are so twined,
and maybe I have been assigned
a very special
set of rules
that—
What!
A sound?
A flashing light?
Some further word on what is right?
Hmmm …
Neon “NO” and clanging bell.
Well, sometimes
words can get misspelled.
I’d really better
think this out.
There’s so much room
for so much doubt.

Haiku

Radiated beam
Daughter of the sunshine spins
Water to silver

(Genesis 21:14)

Hush, Ishmael,
The dawn is green today
And the day will be white
Without shadow.
No one awake
But us, in the cool dawn of a prayer,
Three goodbyes
On the bare curve of hills.
Water slaps in its bottle in footstep rhythm
Of three
Then two
A dog wakes the flocks
Far away.

He Who Would Be Chief Among You

And He rose from supper,
Poured water in a basin,
And washed the disciples’ feet.
Those hands, hardened by the heat
Of a desert sun, comfortable with cutting trees
And turning them to tables in Joseph’s shop—
Those hands that with a wave could stop
The troubled sea, could touch a leper clean,
Or triumphantly turn death away
From the loved daughter on Jairus’ couch—
Those hands that could gesture
The heavens open—
Poured water in a basin,
And washed the disciples’ feet.
The lesson lay unlearned,
But to a few—
Who trust the paradox
And hear the call:
He who would be chief among you
Let him be the servant of all.

To Me

To those who dwelt in tents
In the wilderness—
A curious ball
Of fine workmanship.
And to wise men who waited
And watched—
A star!
And to wandering Israel—
A cloud by day
And a pillar of fire
By night.
And to me—
A prophet,
And a still, small voice.

The Conversion of a Young Man in England: 1854

he came upon the meeting in the grove
among the leaning
green and golden oaks.
without a cloudless vision of the why
he came, and waited
in a thinning dawn—
and others like himself, he reckoned, came
and listened, taut,
beside him in the oaks,
while dawn began to thin like parting fog
among the leaves
and in the way of sky.
along the warming ground the sound arose
of waiting, like
arousing bees—young wind
sang on the warm as lark calls, thinned and drawn.
the panes of sky
went soft, and then the sun
fell dappled on the words the elder said
among the leaning
green and golden oaks.

Footprints of a Prophet

I had wanted to follow
Because a prophet had walked there,
Even though the snow and silence were
Reason enough for a walk through
The quiet crispness of this winter evening.
I was grateful for the snow
Because I could see his footprints there,
And I measured my own against his,
Fitting my foot to his footprint,
Falling short, but hoping and building,
Example by example, precept upon precept,
Following on the footprints of a prophet.
As I watched and stretched step by step,
Assurance flowed liquid over
The quiet cushion of snow,
A sure but quiet testimony
That here are the footprints of a prophet—
Follow them.