A Difficult Faith was published by Pottersfield Press (NS) in 1985. Part three, “Guide to the Perplexed,” was in response to the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, known in Israel as “The First Lebanon War.” The eleven poem sequence won third prize in the 1983 CBC Literary Competition.
Throughout the years, I seem to have retained my heartache and dismay at the on-going conflicts in the world.
for Elizabeth Kübler-Ross
The souls of the dying emerge from cocoons
near your garden, light briefly
on the porch screen while you breathe in
morning air, breathe out sleep’s messages
and wonder this day if love
will dust its colours on your arms.
They swarm in trees where you go in winter.
Shaved from the sun, they glow in that shaded
place hollowed out by your mother.
You drive through their spring flight
amazed at how they slip from your windshield
like intimate moments you thought would be
bright forever, dance in a wind
you crave and can hardly bear.
Were they in your dreams as a child,
did they lift you from the earth to float
above your father’s face and his ache
that his arms might not hold you once more?
In gardens of flowers you knelt
clear as the glass jar you held,
capturing their wings;
they dissolved in your sight, released you
to grow as an almost perfect prayer for them.
Did you see your grandmother’s hands
rise from the sheet where she lay dying,
flutter briefly near your head?
How they settled with astonishing lightness
under your tears. How her eyes closed
as her last and first breath
brushed your face and was gone.