Your spider-webbed strands
carved into the shape of antlers
curving as if they are strong arms
surrounding my soul in warm embrace,
cradling me safe as a nursing child upon his mother’s chest
You dangle above my bed,
like some nanny-cam of the Sacred Mother,
eye for some Cosmic Big Brother
which fills me not with fear but granted comfort.
I am seen. I am heard. I am understood. I am surrounded.
You remind me of daddy’s favorite prayer,
spoken over each meal
as rote as mantras chanted by yogis
sitting on mats, bodies a pretzel,
recited in rhythm of measured breaths
drawn deep into one’s body,
into those places where our small selves
become intertangled like winding branches of tomato vine
with the larger self in which all things are one,
breaths blown out with the pureness of the spring winds
which set my kites to fly as a boy each March,
winds which are but the gentle breath
blown by the Sacred wholeness
I know as Mother Spirit,
yet whom daddy called “Our Father” in that moment
Daddy would call upon this one above,
asking for angel armies to march about,
flaming sword in hand
to keep out all serpents from this home
he hoped would be our Eden.
“Guard them, Oh Father, when I cannot.
Keep them safe from harm and illness”.
He hoped that, as your crafters promised
you to catch the evil that haunts our darkest dreams
his words would weave a net to keep us from every evil.
Yet just as on many a night, when you have dangled overhead,
I have found myself woken, heart pounding
wet with sweat from a horror of the night
which stalked my dreams and stole my sleep,
so too the serpents also crept into our garden,
for their eggs were laid in the roots of own planting
I cannot know what pain he felt
to see those words, as carefully crafted as your artistry,
seem to betray themselves
as illness, madness, poverty, death, and pain
struck our home,
falling on us as certain as heat
that can cook eggs on the pavement
falls from the Carolina sun each August,
heartache as deep, in its own way,
as what that serpent who haunted Ha Shem’s garden
wrought poor Job, though not as guitless
I remember when I found those asps
encircling my own heels
Like Jesus in the desert, I sat surrounded by the wilderness beasts,
my own Coyote of the Cherokee and Wolf of Assisi.
Fear gripped my chest
Like the bullied boy I was on the playground,
I sought to flee, only to find,
wherever I turned, those blazing eyes met me.
As quiet as softly falling rain,
deep below the thundering booms of my own heart,
I heard Mother Wisdom’s whisper in the winds:
“Dear boy, be like my first child.
Fear not these encircling forms,
but name them with me and set them free”.
And so, crawling on my belly in the dust as a beast myself,
I approached them by my own Bodhi tree
to , like Francis, befriend those once-dark forms.
With the light such meeting brought to dawn,
finally daddy’s prayer was answered.
My guarding angels are now:
wrapping their bright-winged form
around the pole in the center of the garden
to offer healing as my own life-giving tree
as she prowls my shadow places
the White Wolf,
as he wanders my own Assisi chapel grounds,
prowling my own heart
whose wet noses sniff ahead
to find my unseen wilderness way
beyond which lies my inner Jordan waters
and my own personal Bethlehem.