Low Tide

First, pick your way across pool-wet rocks

or slip down the slick-seaweeded ramp

 

Find the sand ridged with last night’s high tide

and walk toward the distant soft surf

 

Toes in the cold runnels—still wearing shoes?

Take them off, leave them here

 

a waypost

a beacon

 

Watch your feet as you walk

It shrinks the distance

 

Count the swirled sandworms

piles of sodden glow-green

 

(You will be there before you know it)

 

Here a high-dry sandbar—

an island it was

 

now one with endless wet-brown sameness

under cloud-weep blue-gray sky

 

You are tired my heart but don’t sit

don’t pause

 

No need to look up or back

You are plenty far from home

 

(The water slides toward you)

Scotland

I meant, before I left, to sketch your mountains

your rich sun-slanted endless variations:

black crags heather-muted, gorse-golden

hills bristle-forested all greens

rising grassy fields white-sheep-scattered

lichened standing stones in mossy woods

 

I meant, before I left, to sing your waters

your sparkling cloud-cooled endless variations:

stone-tumbled beaches wave-blunted

streams rock-bedded rushing down

slow-sand firths tidal-slipping

sudden valley lochs in silent mist

For Those Who Made the Book of Kells

For your work, you had light—

as much as could be gathered

in that northern isle—and color

under the too-often colorless sky

 

In scriptorium silence the passion sang

from within; steady hand, pattern-vision

as much a gift from above as the word

you enwrapped for all the world

 

The times cannot have been so dark—

vellum glows with intertwinings

of lapis, vermilion, shimmering gold:

revelation for centuries of souls

 

If you’d like to gaze at pages of this amazing manuscript–probably created in Scotland circa 800 A.D.–find it here in Trinity College Dublin’s digital library.