Poem for Saturday
"In a hole in the ground..." -The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien
I'm at a picnic table instead of a church pew this Good Friday evening under an A-frame covering with a steeple faintly silhouetted against golden hour amidst budding limbs of spring. The sky is not dark, rather, its pastel blue dissolves to faint rose warmth. No one else at the house wanted to attend a service, which helped me realize I didn't either. So I'll sit with the avian evensong until the mosquitoes discover my perch. Today's the first taste of summer and again I didn't notice how happy I am to relinquish the cold.
Just a few weeks past I found myself in a tomb. It's older than the pyramids, 5,200 years to be exact, and the inner chamber is cruciform. The ancients who built it masterfully crafted a resting place for their deceased while living outside in thatched huts. The roof has never leaked, a credit to the engineered grooves in the structure for the rain to pass through, and with river rocks and ocean stone they made a burial mound for their dead. The door is open with a carved monolith at the entrance displaying trinitarian spirals, serpentine waves, and diamond patterns. This particular grave opens to the winter sunrise. The ground follows the natural slope of the hill underneath allowing horizons to cross paths with the rolling landscape to the east. For 17 minutes one morning every year (if it's not cloudy) the sunlight shines straight back into the cave filling the innermost chamber with a persistent glow. They let you inside with a guided tour and simulate the dawn of that singular day. If you rest your face on the ground in the interior you can see out the front door. This place, along with its summer twin, open to the zenith of their season.
I've written for several years now about burial, it's the third to be exact, and never anticipated I'd find myself in a real tomb.
I bent down to touch the edge of the light as it shone in the back of the cave, then stood, crouching only briefly again to exit the hole in the ground.
Outside there were birds and full sun (on an island that rarely sees any) a few old stones and just across the hedge, a small pasture with a flock of lambs.
We left. And I wrote this poem: "Faith"
Rocks kept out fresh water
The door will let the light in
In a straight line
These solstice fathers could not see
spring's daughter with a harvest love
They built a tomb
"Already it is starting, the getting better." -A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith