Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Footnotes in the Kingdom of God

Flower in the crannied wall,
I pluck you out of the crannies,
I hold you here, root and all, in my hand,
Little flower—but if I could understand
What you are, root and all, all in all,
I should know what God and man is.

                                    “Flower in the Crannied Wall”

                                    by Alfred, Lord Tennyson


Daylilies, lavender, and dianthus

push through sidewalk cracks

next to abandoned factories in dying towns,

reaching for the heaven above the heavens

against all odds on the craps table

that wreaks havoc with the ceaseless circadian.

Old men play chess in the park,

knowing they are checkmated

before they shuffle to the bench

like pawns moving one square or two

into an opening gambit of graves.

The commuter from New Rochelle

folds his paper and stares through the train window,

unable to recall whether he kissed his wife lately

because his memory meanders like a stream.

Rusted farm equipment from the forties

sits on foreclosed acres of bindweed and nettles.

Oh, but it was good when it was good,

with tube radios, freckled children, and fireside chats

fertilizing crops by some sleight of hand

known only to carnival barkers and God.

Lovers kiss as they stroll down the avenue,

oblivious to disapproving stares

while holy men knotted into a lotus quietly meditate

and sunlight slides across a lazy gecko

paying rent on a white Arizona rock.

And then there are the poor and lowly,

who have been diagrammed below the sentence,

yearning only for the syntax of warm beds.

All of these vignettes are short stories and poems,

no more than aspiring asterisks

fallen to the bottom of yellowed pages

in basement archives where silence

is given perpetual lease.

But all are redeemed from oblivion’s yoke,

ransomed from insult and lavender’s decay.

Raindrops quench the daylily’s thirst,

for the first shall be last

and the last shall be first.

~William Hammett

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