Beneath The Prayer Shawl


all day making out
with the phenomenal world
one bird
bowing before nature
one scholar
endlessly reading
flat & busy pages

i wish i believed in god
any god
in the voice moving like a chord
over the land
heavy with answers
avatars of vishnu
woodland fauns and corn spirits
teach me
lakshmi, pan, artemis
tutelar holy dogs
enormous shadows of divinity
stalking us
the word made flesh, made mine
persephone, kali, morgana, all y'all
the madonna and all her vampires in heaven
‘o father of lies — embed me above your perverted bed
zion, avalon, nirvana
my mother's house

the sacred center
i levitate into space
drop the masks
cover my face
a simple gesture
thumbs to my cheekbones
fingers to my brow
hands tent my breath
eyes shielded i
calm my explosive frontal lobe
the walls shatter
the books are glitter raining down
words fly
into the blue black air
as i am

i pray
as my Mother prayed
as her Mother prayed
hung like Inanna
for the sins of our power
sepia faded lives of ancestors
ribbon like rivers of rain
across continents and centuries
inherited bandwidth
accompanies me
in that perennially dripping
forest of do-overs
where the world is
green, red
and endless

zooming over illumined thresholds
back to the magical caves
ancient painted temple walls
—not god, not really—
the sacred mammalian longing
to Be with your kind
the clapping, the swaying
the familiar-foreign language flickering
on the threshold of my 6th decade
separate at last from mama's body
like that astronaut treading black space
air hose dangling
tumbling like that for years
i say i've been making up a religion
to fit my life and this world
i say it's empowering
and lonely as hell

next day
taps blowing softly
across the old pink sky
i return to the shul
inside a knowing
that i'm forgiven by angels
mingle with the fasting masses
find a laddered rack of prayer shawls
blue on white
find behind language
the serene departure of the veil
the recessed retreat
in full view of everyone
into my hearts' garden
the untouchable solitude
inscrutable silence

you cover your face
sway and
into the colors of your own exhale
just surrender
is this where mama went
when she left me
and the world?

beneath the prayer shawl
an inner sanctum
you stand like a pillar
a holy ashera tree
the weight of the fabric sinks my roots
how it curves over me
folds me in like batter
how i flow
an upside down waterfall
how i am pushed deeper
backwards through space
through rivers of stars
beyond exalted thought
one distinct jewel
in a string of beads
one shard of the pot
someone who's never done this before
someone who's done this forever
the blue blur of forever
how many shards of desire
years of beads spent swooning
wheeling like spray in the milky way
holy breast milk
feeding all the lonely astronauts
this linkage
one gesture, one prop
archetypes weep from their hiding places

next morning
sitting in sunshine
I face her grave up the mountain
something high
and fresh-ancient circles the land
lifting me
to the Shekinah
this hill
a desert sprouting green promises
across the open skies of me
my fingers all over it
on the inside

the one sky exhales one bird
& arriving

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