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Lenten Poems - 2008

Most of these poems were written during the retreat and reflect the meditations. Some began as fragments I carried around in my email notes to myself or on the backs of junk mail envelopes and scraps of paper. An aging poet needs these bits of permanency to record images and hints of images as they occur--the memory can still be plumbed, but it helps to have some cues along the way. A word of caution: these poems are all early drafts, subject to change as I review them with my writing group and editor. So you may not see the same poem twice. Such is the nature of unfinished work.

This edition includes the poems only. If you prefer to read the poems with a commentary, please click here.


Getting Up
Disconnecting the dots
Morning Prayer
The Unmoving
Speaking out loud
Evening Prayer
Lesser Feasts and Fasts
After the storm
Broken for me
The words
In the eye of light
An invitation to breathe
In the fullness of time

Return to the Preface

* * *

As a ritual, my youngest
lines up the wooden tiles of letters
for the word I have added to the board
so the edges are as if a ruler
were laid against their side.

Half a state away
I am listening to a fellow pilgrim
speak about the chaos
that has crossed her life
a husband plucked from an idyllic scene
extinguished by an indifferent tower of a wave.

Our teacher speaks of order,
the holy as not the momentous
but the mundane--
I am feeling only momentous disorder,
as if someone knocked the game board
and the tiles are jagged lines.

7 Mar 08

Getting Up

"What do you here?"
the monk is asked;
"we fall down,
we get up;
we fall down,
we get up"

I am at the bottom of the stairs;
in my hand
I hold a Q and Z
but no matching vowels
I listen to the letters' sounds
and stutter.

7 Mar 08

Disconnecting the dots

She called them blowers
with the wonder of a four year-old;
she held one by the stem
a tiny constellation
at the purse of her lips
and blew--
all the stars in this orb of spores
tailed off into the wind
its dots disconnecting
into the air,
scattered, random.

I was left
with a stamen moist at the end
of a shoot that leaves stains
on my fingers.
It is gone;
or just becoming?
Is it is?

7 Mar 08


He tells a story
of a group grappling
with definitions--
integrity is today;
it's sharing roots
with integrate
and integral.
In this teaching,
the clutch pedal lifts,
the hidden gears
mesh, turn and hum
as a chord engaged.

7 Mar 08


Watch for those times
in your life
when you come alive,
animated, he says;
see your arms gesturing
like two old men in the market
relating the news—
pay attention;
there lie the clues
to authenticity,
Go to that place;
write it down.

7 Mar 087


The river slows here,
full of froth
from the rapids upstream;
it makes a turn,
nudged by this rise of land
as a liner coaxed by a tug--
it moves with a weight
of all that is.

I go to the summer,
a slowness in the air

legs and arms
over the inner tube,

7 Mar 08


        "She hath often dreamed of unhappiness,
        and waked herself with laughing" --Shakespeare, "Much Ado About Nothing"

      I am telling the story
      of the pig with a wooden leg--
      a bit of a shaggy dog
      with a surprise turn at the end;
      we are both laughing
      from our hips
      and life is good.
      It may be a hundred times
      and still I laugh,
      awakened from the season's misery
      in the shining of the telling.

      7 Mar 08

      Morning Prayer

        “In you we live and move and have our being.” BCP

      We read the morning prayer
      and I remember
      a teacher’s story of the two baskets:
      the kingdom in the outer
      and our fragile wicker abode
      afloat in the center.
      I imagine two handles
      up above,
      and reaching for them;
      at times I can steady the rocking.
      When we die, she said,
      the smaller basket falls away
      and we see
      that we were always in the larger one—
      and I dream of falling
      through the loose weave of life
      and being held
      in nothing at all.

      7 Mar 08

      The Unmoving

      The uphill path
      through the pines
      has remnants of ice,
      pine needles,
      half-way up the rise
      two naked pine trunks
      have fallen across the way,
      short limbs of broken branches
      radiate out as the spokes of a ship's wheel;
      I grab hold as if to turn--

      I lean into the unmoving.

      8 Mar 08

      Speaking out loud

      In the midst of naked trees
      x-rayed wet with cold raw rain,
      the lichen shines as lime dots
      of paint on a grey canvas--
      fog hangs over the river
      and the luminous
      is not silent.

      8 Mar 08

      Evening Prayer

      The smoke pirouettes to the rafters
      with a flourish from the candles,
      extinguished to an end,
      one then the other,
      with a brass rook—
      a bow before, between, following
      the blessing.
      Wicks beacon orange,
      then fade into night.
      Lent yearns toward Easter.

      8 Mar 08

      Lesser Feasts and Fasts

      Putting away the Bible,
      I see a slim volume
      deeper in the cabinet,
      in the last row of books
      leaning into each other—
      “Lesser Feasts and Fasts.”
      I close the paneled door,
      then saying its title twice
      to myself,
      I open the door anew,
      reach for the volume,
      run my fingers down its contents,
      and enter in whatever small way
      I can
      within the food of words.

      8 Mar 08


      On a night of troubled sleep,
      I dream about the electrical outlet,
      the one without its cover,
      the one I’ve neglected for years,
      since the basement office was built.
      It was a combination
      of round and square fixtures
      no standard plate would fit,
      its wires exposed—
      I had not searched for it,
      nor changed it
      to two rounds
      or two squares,
      where the proverbial holes
      would fit;
      nor was I ready to say
      it would not work,
      I’d make do—
      obvious now that it would never
      pass inspection.
      I woke with a sense
      of incompleteness,

      8 Mar 08

      After the storm

      After the storm,
      the river surges
      angry at its banks;
      in a small eddy
      four white mergansers
      the sun is still new,
      the shadows long,
      and this quartet
      eats the silence,
      feeds on the being in the world.

      9 Mar 08


      I rehearse the routines,
      the morning and evening
      making lists
      as I imagine
      reaching for things
      assumed in hand.
      This is how I prepare
      to journey,
      making the granted

      9 Mar 08

      Broken for me

      In the prayers of the Eucharist,
      in the brokenness and redemption,
      I am aware that I have lived
      my life in chapters,
      full of words and fury,
      peace and kindness,
      climax and close
      and ever after.

      9 Mar 08

      The words

      Before he reads the Gospel,
      the teacher asks us to listen for the word
      or phrase that speaks to us.
      I choose “with her hair,”
      this washing of feet not with cloth or sponge,
      but a part of herself.
      I imagine Mary on her knees,
      leaning forward so her tresses fall
      about his feet—
      this is a giving that is an emptying
      an opening to be filled.

      9 Mar 08

      Cf. John 11:1-45. Lazarus dominates the passage, but Mary is the one who shines.

      In the eye of light

      The sun moves to the high window
      and blinds me,
      the dust on my glasses
      opaquely luminous—
      I cannot read the hymn.
      Visoring with my hand,
      leaning forward in my chair,
      the rays move over my head.
      At the end of the a capella song
      I look up—
      The single iris on the table
      is a aflame in the eye of light.

      9 Mar 08

      Good Friday and Easter lie ahead. As in Advent, we watch and wait. More poems will follow as this Lenten wandering unfolds.

      An invitation to breathe

      A sea of crocuses
      rolled in early
      and surprised me,
      violet so not the shade
      of winter,
      but the stole of Lent--
      oh the hope and welcome
      in that upturned cradle
      of a delicate palm!

      15 Mar 08


      Leaving on Good Friday,
      the night is a bolero--
      air cold, as winter
      will not relent.

      Through the boughs of pines
      supplicating to the wind
      shines a moon
      so piercing
      the clouds caught on either side--

      So this leaving
      down stone steps,
      the crunch of sand and salt so crisp
      I am in its hand

      21 Mar 08

      In the fullness of time

      She opens the purple bow
      on the oval box
      of chocolate eggs
      "oh ho ho," she says
      touching the green foil wrapped one
      with her tiny hand.
      "Later," I say.
      Wonder dashed in her eyes,
      she backs away.
      After dinner,
      she is covered in chocolate,
      ringing her lips and each finger,
      the arrival sweeter
      from the longing.

      Easter 08

      * * *

      All Poems © Copyright 2008, E. Granger-Happ, All Rights Reserved.

      Return to the Preface
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Document last modified on: 03/23/2008

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