One Room

While there are still fireflies in the field,
Before the field of the heavens is flittered with shooting stars,
come with me

Pass to this chamber of my memory
the doorway is small but there are no walls –
it opens on a night of crickets and barking from four fields away –
there is a sweet smell
what the Earth really smells like
without the wallpaper of city life plastered on

Come, there is dancing in every field all around
you cannot look ahead or behind or to any side
without seeing the tiny lights darting.
Let it sink a sweet zinging hook into your chest
and pull you
out, out and away
there is delirium that is not the companion of illness;
drink it in, child of earth,
drink of it, queen of the Earth

Every firefly will do you obeisance
and you will not catch one
you will stumble on the clods of  your earth
and when you fall it will not hurt
and you will be a better dancer afterward

Stop, the time has come.
We’ve spotted the first ten meteors or so
and here is this picnic table
don’t think about crust or dust
or peeling paint.
O queen,
think not at all –
be for this night as one who senses and who feels,
and not as one who calculates,
O queen, my soul!

Lie back on the table
and let the sky be again your only husband
it was sweet that way
with anguish of sweetness and this will never be
not a phase of you yourself

Now the dances of the earthborn have passed,
and so have the dances of the heavenborn;
it is early in the morning and
you are weary with joy and longing unfulfilled
a real husband would be nice, you think,
or better yet someone to tell your deepest secrets to:
(do you recall such naivety?
what did you think a husband was that you lumped
every human desire into one ideal ephemeral form?)
This is why it is good to remember.

This is why it is good to enter once again a room of memory
in the house of your past
remember when you took to yourself
beauty, hard and fierce and blinding,
arrogant and joyous you were
and you knew then what you have almost forgotten now.

There were people there and these are shadows moving
in the darkened room
without faces or voices;
you recall them in
their attitudes and their leaning toward yourself
and that is all the face and voice you gave them,
selfish child,
and some of them danced with you.

It is almost the same memory you have of being
a baby
in a crib
in a soft sweetsmelling room;
the lights turn out;
and your mother and your father,
bereft of their frightening insistence and unintelligible conversations,
speak softly by your side
with warmth and condescension till you understand:
“We love you, and that will never change.”

Oh, life was sweet and awful then.


  1. This poem is impossibly haunting, beautiful, evocative, lovely, tender. Sister, you truly have the gift. These words are so real, my other senses, not just my ears (I read them aloud) strain to somehow catch them. The best of Whitman, of C. S. Lewis, approach them, humbled. Only a woman could write like this.

    Thanks for sharing them with these old eyes and ears.


  2. You are too kind, Romanos… I don’t feel that what you say could possibly be true but I don’t doubt your honesty.

    Sometimes… poems write themselves, almost. I think this is one of the ones I don’t completely understand myself.


  3. This poem is so vivid, it’s like a dream remembered upon waking, when the senses are still imbued with mystery and delight. As to poems, I am dispassionate in my appraisals, even when it seems my praise is lavish. The best poems I have written wrote themselves, and reading and rereading them afterwards, I keep asking myself, “who wrote that?”

    I don’t read very much poetry, nor do I write much anymore, but I know a great poem when I see one. Out of the many who pretend to be poets, you are not among them. And what poets are, only God knows. He made them.


  4. All true poems, like the divine Scriptures, are meant to be read aloud.

    To read them silently when not strictly necessary is like looking at pictures of food but not eating the food.

    “O echon ous akousato ti to Pnevma legei tais ekklisiais” has more than one application.

    Joy to you, sister, and thanks for letting us read your poems, aloud.


  5. Who has ears, let him hear what the Spirit is saying in the churches?

    (My memory wants to supply “has ears:” I’m not completely sure what I’m looking at here…)

    So you are saying we should listen with our actual ear and not just our mind’s ear. I like that.


  6. echon… epsilon chi omega nu?

    Participle of echw, epsilon chi omega

    O… masc. sing. nom. article.

    Lit. the one having…

    That much I suspected but it surprises my that ‘ous’ is ‘the ear,’

    So, now I can go back to bed and slumber in peace.

    Honestly, Romanos! 😉


  7. Sorry for the Greek in English letters. I should have written it out in Greek letters, but if I’m nor sure that others read Greek letters, I transliterate according to Greek pronunciation (pnevma, not pneuma).

    “So you are saying we should listen with our actual ear and not just our mind’s ear. I like that.”


    I live in the Greek New Testament, the Hebrew Psalms, and the Jerusalem Bible. Those are my three favorite rooms in my mansion in the Father’s House. The Greek I quoted is, of course, as you knew, the refrain found at the conclusion of each of Christ’s letters to seven churches of Asia, in the book of Apokálypsis, ο εχων ους ακουσατω τι το πνευμα λεγει ταις εκκλησιαις, 2:29.

    That line is engraved on my waking and sleeping thoughts and, as I say, it has many applications.

    True poetry partakes of the glory of divine scripture, whose author in the Spirit is the Father Himself, who in our Greek pistévo, the symbol of Nicaea, is called ποιητης, poet, not κτιστης, bricklayer, creator, of heaven and earth. This has always impressed me, that our God is Poet not Bricklayer, and that we are His poem, as scripture says, “We are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus to live the good life as from the beginning He had meant us to live it” (Ephesian 2:10).


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