Piece of Coal

The piece of coal that wanted to be diamond
said to the earth: Press me.

The succulent grape that wanted to be wine
said to the feet: Crush me.

The cloud that wanted to be thunder and rain
said to a facing cloud: Collide with me.

The mountain that wanted to be level valley
said to the elements: Erode me.

The oyster that wanted to produce a pearl
said to a sand-grain: Irritate me.

The heart that wanted to be filled with light
said to the world: Break me.

So what’s the surprise
at the onslaught, the relentless
avalanche after avalanche of rose petals
in the form of insurance payments,
natural disasters, arthritis,
heart trouble and death?
Rose petals big as houses
propelling through the air at us
like the shields of Hussars
which leave us flat on the battlefield dazed,

but then they assume their
rose petal shapes again
piled in drifts around our
prostrate bodies, so that if our
prostrate bodies are taken away there’ll be
the perfect outlines of the absolute
blessings that have
showered upon us
like the chalk outlines of forensic

O our lives cry out to be pressed to
diamond, call out to be
crushed to wine, sing out to be made to
fall as merciful rain all around us,

our mountains cry out to be worn down
to passable valleys

so we can fill those valleys
with heart’s light

for other travelers
to see by.

2/12/97 (from The Blind Beekeeper)

Categories: Poems

Write a Comment