Patio Pavers by Dan Behrens More cinder than stone, Four dozen patio pavers Lay behind our tool shed, Misplaced, abandoned, Exposed and melting away Under the long linger of rain— This heap of garden bricks That once hedged off roses, Retained a lofted green bed, Perhaps encircled a school of Koi Or encamped evening fires For a family who lived here. Now unearthed, I scrape, wash, and stack These moss-coated slabs Erect as an Incan altar Beside our broken gate, Like something conjured Out of the womb of earth, A small tower of fidelity I’ll later use to reset The sagging porch, A near nod to whomever Kept this yard before me— Her hands. His dirt. Their Eden. This evening, I’ll cut the grass, Gathering Lilac clippings, Toss some fertilizer And set upon these neglected stones To help us turn the corner, To hear again the ancient utterance Of new birth, the miraculous Marriage of symmetry and chaos, Like Babel's tower in her infancy Before the scattering and the falling apart, Before our creative language severed, Our sacred union wedged To the far reaches of earth.
The Release of St Peter —Acts 12:6-19 by Dan Behrens There is that story among all the Acts of the apostles, where the house of Mary is itself a house of prayer— a lighted city above the valley of the world. Fervent believers praying inside fervently praying, believing, while outside in the street new men find themselves walking about. New men. Free men. Unrecognizable men under the dark of night, under the arm of the empire, under the Spirit of God. Still, how little is made of that servant girl Rhoda, and all that was accomplished through her at the gate— this magnanimous release of St Peter, and the train of the church thundering through the ages.
Bethlehem by Dan Behrens Bethlehem City of David Ephrath of old My home Village among the cliffs Your lamp has not gone out. Oh Bethlehem My heart How you keep the bones of Rachel You birth the sons of Jesse How you hide the men of valor Feed the lambs of sinners. Bethlehem Oh house of meat Your carved crags shelter shepherds Outside the Temple gates You oh house of bread Seal up your earthen doors. Oh Bethlehem Herod’s horses Herod’s swords Hide your infants Hide my heart Your lamp has not gone out There among the cliffs. Bethlehem Feed us all the prophet’s song Wherein your womb is moved Wherein the road does end “for unto you is born this day” Your shepherds bring us in. Oh Bethlehem All angels softly sing My journey home To Bethlehem My heart Oh light among the cliffs.
Mondays at Mary-Haven Nursing Home, Snohomish by Dan Behrens Applesauce is all she really eats, Ellis all she really smiles at. A slow slipping away into something More redemptive and young Gram will never again feel, Let alone hold in her atrophied arms. Fewer words each time I visit. More staring. More sleep. Different pair of caregivers today, Busying themselves with pudding or plasticware, The tv volume, ice. I turn the blinds Enough for her to look out toward Machias of the late 30’s And the stationhouse there She’s long since left. Tears. Our times together grow shorter. Her recall Of names now near nothing. Whether ever married. Where she is. My face. I squeeze her hand And read of the still, quiet waters in the Psalms Till Ephrod—the afternoon nurse—stops in. Here we go Bobby, he says. Lift for me... Come on now. Role. Sponge. Towel. Cream. All for a fresh diaper. Whatever pain there is is distant, Ephrod says. But what does he know Of the slowly slipping away, The long drive home, The mirage of memories Beyond the Bellevue high-rise, Back down the Renton Valley?