Christian Poetry by Bob Reeves … Go Figure

Last night I found myself reciting a forty-year-old poem in my head, a poem not written down anywhere (till now), a rhyming poem (& those 0f you who know me know how opposed to the use of traditional forms I am), a Christian poem (& again, you who know me know I am if anything violently anti-Christian), written at the Monastery of Christ in the Desert in Chama Canyon near Abiquiu, NM, at a time when I was seriously – though briefly – considering joining this branch of the Benedictine order, in July or thereabouts, 1972.  The poem’s title might be “Chama Canyon,” but it seems to me that was a replacement title, the original being lost in the mists of my odd memory.  I type it here for curiosity value & also because I think a few lines are fine poetry.  A lot of it, to be sure, makes me wince:  I would no longer, even if my life were threatened, put the words “girth” or “orison” in a poem, or use the impersonal “needs” which doesn’t agree with its ostensible plural subject.  It wasn’t the “beams” of the cross that pierced Jesus’ wrists either, it was nails through the beams.  Oh well.  The poem refers to the custom of gathering around a crude wooden statue of Mary at the end of the Compline service (the last liturgical hour of the day) & singing the Salve Regina, a beautiful poem in its own right.

 

Chama Canyon

 

These hills are hoed day after day,

a bit of work for bits of food.

In chapel after, rise to pay

rememberance to a bit of wood,

no longer life that leaned to wave

its bands of leaves by breezes swirled,

but meaning other life, which gave

a mother’s pity to the world.

From girth of carven log she looks

and wraps with love their orison

who move from work to psalter-books,

each one a thorn to crown her Son.

We offspring of the Spirit’s spouse,

whose beams have bored the eagle wrists,

we may not fly or flee this house

the while this round of life persists:

this while these wings must be for toil,

and pinions needs be bent to brood

on sprigs that straggle in the soil,

a bit of work for bits of food.

 

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