Why would the painter stay his hand
When he’d illumined the easel
With brush strokes broad of piquant light
And dark colors filled the canvass,
Leave his figures’ faces bereft
As ancient, mummified Pharaohs.
Reminders of ingratitude
Are bitter holes in my life’s hour,
For them I scan in mother’s tongue
The Creator’s pen provided.
So soft and tender tell the lines
Of greater gifts that bind my book.
Mother’s, father’s patient love gives,
And friendship’s virtues not in vain
Did my blessèd Father bestow
On this little life unworthy.
My easy brow, my hands unbled,
Are His great love’s last testament.
But one stanza he feeds with stones
That in two seeks to be one flesh:
Without this psalm or glory’s gloss
Leave’s me unknowning and unknown,
Like a pock-marked, mysterious
Haven of hopes, destroyer of dreams,
All these barren spaces in between
The ghostly marks of Holy Writ
That brand our souls; but not our strength
Can salve our woe—we crushed must wait
Till God himself shall fill them up.