Good Friday Meditations



Good Friday Meditations



Peony snow-white,

Peony rose-red,

springing out of naked dirt

where some strong god has bled.


Rose in her thicket now

is thorn laid over thorn.

She can’t allow–this leaden hour–

her blossoms to be borne.


Peony rose-red,

Peony snow-white,

all things shall be crimson

before the end of night.



I thought I was working in my garden.

Blaze at my back. Blue. That incomparable sky.

Music of a bird, or three birds, different.


Delving, I thought to bring, in due time,  something forth

from the tangled complexity of roots whose flowers are forgotten,

from foundations that do not remember what they lifted up.

Worm. Bones.


Me on my knees,

music of three different birds,

then one I could not tell the name of.



The flowering crabtree said, abide!

I’ve kept my flowers  an extra day.

Take the dry spear out of your side.

Pack the prickly crown away.
Judas with silver in his palm,

George with cross upon his shield,

lie down in the rose-red calm

with dragon in the dragon’s field.


Sit in my shade and think your thought

of what are the goods and what’s the price,

of who has loved you and who would not,

of tragic saints mewling of paradise.
Here’s my pink in the holy gray town;

there are the terrible tableaux.

Earth kissed me when it rocked the temple down.

It’s all for you to choose, you know.


There stands his solemn cross-beam tree;

here in the gushing sunbeam, me.

Shake out your beautiful hair and go

round us and round us, and never know.

I will color, said the Spirit.

I will dye the sharp hills.

I will enamel the twisted valleys.
The greens–said the Spirit–

by the time you finished naming them,

I will be on to something else.


What is high, said the Spirit,

I will lift as I lifted the hills.

What is deep, delve. Deepen.


The quiet I will make

into a taut string. The singing, see,

is beaten to a golden road.
Are you finished? said I

to the Spirit.

Night came with her curve of moon.



The night bird would not leave off

calling even in the dawn light.


He that was strong is broken.

He that was beautiful is marred.
The night bird will not leave off,

mingles with the voices of the wrens.
I see it now, the unexpected approach,

the small bodies bending the grass,

afloat on shadows the shape and size of them,

now hesitant, now bounding forth.

They encircle me. They ask “What day is this?

Oak will not bear us. White lily

weeps with her sisters on the eastern path.”
He that was strong is broken.

He that was beautiful is marred.
I bend down to comfort the mole in his sadness.

Snake sighs and leans his head against my hand.
I whisper, “Sing your lamentation as you can.

Do not leave off until full light.”

One thought on “Good Friday Meditations

Leave a Reply to Artis Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s