Tuesday, December 13, 2011

In Honour of Saint Herman of Alaska: The Elder Herman at Sitka

I
You returned to the Sitka springs,
An old man bound with chains to your
Humility, your eyes speaking
Only the language of angels.
Once God drowned you in these waters
And the dove who became a fish
Descended deep into your eyes.
Then you rose and flew away
Unburdened of your miracles
And certain that raising the dead
Was your only obligation--
And so you returned to the Sitka springs.

II
In your thin arms you held a child
Who would not fly above his life:
He nailed a dove’s wings to the sun.
In your thin arms you held a child
Who forgot the world had ended:
He buried all the fallen stars.
In your thin arms you held a child
Who suffered much from being dead:
He could not heal the bleeding stones.
In your thin arms you held a child
Who could not see a dove descend
To fill the rivers in his eyes with wings.

III
When the angel had veiled himself
In the clear waters, only you
Could see where immortality
Had disturbed them. So, kneeling,
You bathed us till we were transparent
And went back to the sacred cave.
You did not see the dead birds sing
Nor the stars rise into heaven
Nor the stones turn into mountains;
You did not see us look up and see God;
For your eyes were overwhelmed by
Visions of more immense simplicity.

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