SIX POEMS BY TONY SCILIPOTI
HOUSE PLANTS AT ADVENT

Taking an early turn
Toward a yellow window,
Their necks and chins are lit
From below by the snow's echo
Of the sun;
             the cold surface
Of Earth rotating slowly
Out of view toward country,
Our children need us to know,
More gently lit than that
Where movie credits go.


CHOIR

Conflate your lungs, your body
With oligotrophic air
In the depths of a high church,
Where the boys' voices flash
By turns and school between
The far white coamings
And the ridged lake floor.


ALL SAINTS' DAY, 1502

After the clear leaf lights,
Before the brightening snows
Settle the season, there's a long
Quiet time of rain.

It may be through this lens,
Unwanted, but so untinted,
That we most easily see
Raw seasons of the past
When God, like the lake beyond
And far below the last
Peat-topped escarpment,
Materialized darker but clearer.

If we were given arrows
And long alder bows
(These to bring deer
Between friends and death),
Often we would die.
But, surviving, we
Might find ourselves, like Durer,
Given a windy, certain ardor:

The thatch rotten, he knows
He'll spend half November
On the steep roof, sleet
Choking the vulnerable hearth.

Still, he sits quietly.
A streaked bit of light
Makes its spare way
Through the leaded panes.
Each hair must be
Engraved on that young
Hare whose coat might
Turn at any moment.


CATCHING SIGHT OF CHRISTIANITY

Nearer death with each dawn's chill,
All the illuminated fruits of fall have voices:
Grotesque and visionary, gourds are counter-tenors;
Turnips krummhorns; the giant Blue Hubbard
Squash can only be the bass shawm;
Wounded apples' mad bees the drone.

In consort at the farm stand, ranged on risers
Under the same hard-edged, gold-leaf light
In which troubadours played for martyrdoms
And coronations, theirs is a lay of contrast
Between the brilliant pinions
And unseen backs of angels' wings.


          ICED TEA

          Slowly stirring the air 

          Below the chaise's arm,

          Hoping to contact the glass

          In its bulging puddle of neglect,


          The human arm shows

          By those blind arcs

          The joy of the reading mind.

                                   August, 1991



THE MEETING HOUSE IN WINTER

A few jays stay,
Prepared to out-steel
The closing scrim of sky.
Otherwise, all the blue, 
Yellow, red primary 
Birds are away with friends.

Defensive, puffed like a huge
Sparrow, a brown hawk
Allows snow to collect.
Soon, an inescapable 
Breath will swell and loft
It south, too.

It's a shaded, schematic beauty:
Only the plainest-dressed
- Woodpecker, nuthatch, crow -
Could fail to tilt the landscape.
Still, the woodpecker hides
That brilliant red cockade.


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