a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
I climbed two steps to the pulpit
to read from the Book of Wisdom.
The steps were low and wide.
I opened to Her pages where the sea meets the land.
I wanted to sob into Wisdom’s graceful gown,
but She had not arrived.
The row of mourners stared up at me,
their faces like giant sea-turtle’s
just before the shell is stripped back,
the ancient, petrified tongues sticking out
like pieces of the original cross.
In the black sea-glass of their eyes
I saw pre-history, undawning, creep
in the time it took to rub my reading glasses clean
and banish spasms from my chin.
I wanted to ask Her to become Creation—
to sail these old, wise-babies, though steeled
inside the shell of their dear, departed mother,
across the water to the Fertile Crescent,
or to the Hesperides, and bury them there,
in the sand. Let them be born again.
Tearfully, tenderly I read to them:
The souls of the just are in the hands of God,
and torment of death shall not touch them.
In the sight of the unwise, she seemed to die,
and her departure from us, taken as misery—
She is just, and running to and fro,
like sparks among the reeds.
At this moment:
She is wrought as gold in a furnace—
He hath proved her.
From the pulpit I wondered,
where the sparks had landed,
before I stepped down,
and crawled, slowly,
back to my pew
and sunk my face into the spine
of my wide-open hands.
Through a doorway in your imagination
Enter the green, rectangular meditation.
Mother Christ, Pomegranate, Pelican—
Move the sky around once more
Inside your cosmic womb,
Two turns west to east—
Shake loose the guns surrounding Baghdad.
I am just a Gypsy poet who can’t soak enough
Blood into sand to make one authentic bloom,
As the desert bursts into flame like Flander’s Field
And lapels remain unbloodied by orange paper poppies
That will never be worn for Baghdad.
Time, sand, erode walls of the city, as dictators do.
Keep these garden walls intact as satellite beams,
Or prayers that stream missiles to other’s houses—
Shot through with mortal holes by mortal fire
Around the world containing Baghdad.
Keep the paths straight inside my Gypsy garden
And the pear trees blooming.
Keep one thorny stain at the center
By the wall still standing, by the well—
Where we sit, mute and amazed as Lazarus
Awakened from his dream of Hell.
Karen Morris is a psychoanalyst in private practice in NYC and NE PA, and has published poems in several small journals. Her published clinical papers often address serious social concerns and rely heavily on a related discussion of poetics to provide structure and form where it has dissolved, for instance in the case of international child sex-tourism and the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandal. Her paper on Abu Ghraib explored the participation of licensed psychologists and the sanctioning of torture, through the lens of Persian Classical and Sufi poetry, for which she received the Gradiva Award (2010).