Intermittent cheeps and squawks
an occasional long trill comes at dawn
in mist and drizzle.
An ancient oak stands on the west bank
in a courtyard protected on three sides
by walls of the church and bell tower,
open to the Hudson River and sunrise.
Two centuries before Holy Cross
and the brothers came, this tree stood,
a third century has passed in company
of chants, prayers and meditation.
Twisted and gnarled old limbs
laden with moss fur and gray green lichen
carry a green memory of summer year round.
Woods buffer the water, the approach to the grounds.
A meadow rises up the hillside from the river,
its sloping banks, arms of land around the monastery.
Twigs flower with fronds of gold rust and lime,
new buds gentle my forest bathing
this rainy day that holds the sun cloud wrapped
and keeps local boats docked.
A rackety clack and whistle of the shoreline train
mixes with birdsong in the grand silence
broken by the resonant gong of the bronze bell,
a call to matins at the monastery. I go
to chant morning with the brothers.
Date Published: July 18, 2017)