A Corner Of The Cloak
You know how everything seems normal and usual and orthodox
But actually everything, if you look at it closely with all four eyes,
Is utterly confusing and puzzling and mysterious and astonishing?
For example this morning the world presents me a red-tailed hawk,
All shoulders and muscle and glower and a bust like Dolly Parton’s,
And the hawk completes the life cycle of a young ground squirrel,
Spermophilus beecheyi for those of you scoring the game at home,
And carts his or her repast up to a massive oak and carefully peels
The squirrel like a banana, keeping the protein and letting the skin
Fall to the grass below, where a dog, Canis familiaris for you fans
At home, sniffs curiously and then looks as ecstatic as I have ever,
And I mean ever, seen a dog, and they are in general a happy tribe,
But then the young woman roped to the dog, Homo sapiens girlius
For those of you scoring at home, yanks the leash and barks, Drop!
And the dog with immense reluctance drops the most enticing pelt
He has ever even imagined in the redolent and wondrous universe,
And the girl picks it up and stares at it a moment and then drops it
With a strangled screech or swallowed scream or disgusted moan
(It’s hard to explain exactly the nature of her horrified vocal sound),
And off she goes at a canter, dragging the rueful and reluctant dog.
I stand thirty feet away, with my jaw hanging open like a window,
Having witnessed the whole mad event from hawk to horrified girl,
And conclude, for the thousandth time, what a wild and blessed gift,
What a bloody and magical machine it is, what a slather of stories,
What an endless thicket! You really and truly could be issued fifty
Lifetimes and spend each of them addled and muddled in wonder
And never understand or even see more than a corner of the cloak.
The Second Letter Of Lazarus To His Sisters
Beloveds, I don’t think we are quite communicating clearly here.
What I said was that I think there are two sides to every miracle,
And while I am thrilled to be alive and not moldering in the grave,
And I have written any number of letters of gratitude to Himself,
It was inarguably embarrassing to be stripped of the grave clothes
With which I was bound hand and foot, and to stand there stark
Naked, discombobulated after being called forth by a loud voice,
Nor was my skin in what you all would call the “pink of condition,”
Nor had I eaten in four days, but there I was suddenly on display.
You would be rattled too, you know you would, the both of you.
Loose him and let him go, He says, and everyone oohs and aahs,
But, you know, then what? You remember what happened next,
He moves away down the hill, and everyone follows, the fastest
Sprinting to the front to see what will happen next, the vendors
Packing their foods and wares to move along to the next miracle,
But there I am, naked as a jaybird and smelling to high heaven,
Famished, stunned, reborn, in debt, confused, and utterly alone.
I cast no aspersions when I remark that you both followed Him.
I would have too, had I been capable, and now that I am healthy
I will follow him to the second end of my days. But do allow me
Simply to note that while it surely was the most memorable day
Of my entire life, it also certainly was not the most comfortable,
Or the easiest, or even, dare I say, the best. To me the day I was
Married was the best day, or the days my three children arrived.
So I can say, even as I am the most thankful man who ever was,
That I regret, in some small way, that for many centuries hence
I will be not Eleazar, a decent man, beloved of his many friends,
A good father, a patient husband, noted for his kindness and wit,
But only Lazarus, who was by the Christ returned from the dead.
If such be the small price of this new life in which I am at home
Again in the arms of those I love, among whom I count you two,
So be it; but I do think that you, among all women in the world,
Would understand that miracles breed ripples that do not cease.