Poetry: Last Days
Why in the last of days does it feel the first—
why is the rain always new, a ‘latter rain’?
The baby’s name is Phoenix and her flame
is better than the ash we visit and
revisit. Last night I dreamed that all the women
in my life were in fear of the end—
no more wine, long nights, no more new songs,
above them spun the stars. In older days,
what am I saying, in younger days, before
the denial of the text, before even
the text, there was the dream that almighty Love
moved the spheres; a man wrote it down, and once
penned down in a book, the people forgot. The love
became a lesson, and by ten o’ clock
it was forgotten—gone like the clang of cymbals,
singing of angels, fled as stories where mountains
shift their oxen shadows into green fields of sea.
Now no more mystery’s revealed; we know
it all; empirical proof exists which explains
the losing of God; no thing explains the joy.
Commentary by Kathleen Norris: Poetry and religion both have their origin in the spoken word, in tales shared around a campfire or sung at a cradle. Both poetry and religion suffer as they are removed from the oral realm: poetry can wither on the page, and a living faith, as it turns into text, can get lost in rules and regulations. As this poet puts it, love becomes a lesson. It is good to be reminded of the love that remains at the center of our lives, the universal love that, to paraphrase Dante, moves the sun, moon, and stars.