The Bronze Bell
A great silence breaks at Holy Cross Monastery,
the bell rings from the bell tower next to the church.
The tower, constructed of field stone
intermixed with patches of brick,
is sky capped by a weather vane angel.
Five times a day, deep inside its chamber,
rich and sonorous, the bell tolls
and rides wind currents off the Hudson.
The gong peals through the monastery,
enters mortar and brick,
weaves across grounds and water,
rolls up eight storied tiers of wall
to and from the top of the square squat tower.
Its call knells the house
in and out of a vigil of silence
from evening compline to morning matins.
One brother sits outside the chapel door
tasked to pull the silk bell cord.
The bell’s pulse echoes in chants and psalms,
prayer and poetry reverberates in call and response
by white robed brothers seated on benches
and the congregation.
Grand bronze bell, you toll healing,
your clang hovers in church, meadow and tidal river,
your clap descends sweet as incense,
your chime ascends, a soft benediction.
For the past three days, wrapped in rain, you rang
an offer of a place of peace on this waring planet,
you welcome strangers into the your world,
we come to chant in harmony.
Bless water that flows from land to sea.
Bless the current that runs through veins.
Bless the heart that pumps the current.
Bless low hanging clouds twined in tree branches.
Bless the white mist of promise on blue.
Bless the heavy white curtain that wraps a captive sun.
Bless black footprints on silver grass in evening.
Bless dew pearls on a spiderweb at dawn.
Bless white rimed bare bark barnacled in hoarfrost.
Bless water that green plants sip in and exhale.
Bless tear drops that roll down to the chin.
Bless raindrop water that soaks dry earth.
Bless a glass of water that refreshes after hard labor.
Bless hydrating water plumping up cells.
Bless water to anoint the living and dead.
Bless water holy in and of itself.
After: O Lord, Thy sea is so great and my ship is so small” ~ Anonymous~
beside the boardwalk
on the edge of the beach,
you face the roiling Atlantic.
A red flag flies for Hurricane Jose.
Windswept waves, high as two tall men,
coat walkers and windows with spray.
Your garden flourishes.
Rose and kalanchoe bloom,
push through bars of the fence,
reach seaward to morning.
Waves pound the shore,
gnaw away sand.
You rest on a boulder altar, O Mother,
in the company of a rock cat,
cement rabbit and stone snail.
Sand surf breaks and booms,
sea foam floats into the dunes.
Flowers ring, O Mother Mary,
round your neck and robe
wind three rosaries:
blue for the cerulean Atlantic,
yellow for sun to dry the storm,
white for sand on the beach.
Triple breaking swells
pull each other under.
salt burned white by sea spume,
celestial paint burned off by weather,
you wear pastel rosaries like lassos
and they hold this prayer:
“Protect us, keep our house safe.”
Waves toss forward, pull under
with the riptide force of thunder.
you, outside with the elements,
what ropes bind you here?
Thy sea is so great, this house so small.
I take off my shoes at the door,
enter the guest house,
leave dirt and worldly cares behind,
join seekers of peace at Stillpoint.
My stocking feet polish the clean floor,
toes feel dips, hard and soft surface texture,
my ears open to wind knocking,
the clatter of the heater in the living room.
Squirrel feet skitter across the roof,
pines dip and sway through the windows.
The house is surrounded
by woods, rolling fields, a pond,
trails thread through grounds and gardens.
The labyrinth in sunshine beckons,
I come here to write into my center.
Wind comes knocking,
tree limbs sway,
lush branches rock.
Sunshine brews lime and lemon,
open nestling mouths wait.
Hanging on tree knees,
new soft leaves flop,
they can’t stand alone.
Date Published: March 30, 2018