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Altar Smoke

Updated: Jan 15, 2022

Conceived by Rosalie Grayer


Somewhere inside me There must have always been A tenderness For the little, lived-with things A man crowds upon his worn fistful of earth.

Somewhere inside of me There must have always been A love Made to fill the square aggressiveness of new-cut hedges, And feed the pursed green mouths of baby leaves; A love made to understand The way grass cuddles up to porch steps leaned upon by time, And why dandelions nudge the stones along the walk; A love for garden hose curled sleeping in the noon hush, Coolness trickling lazily from its open mouth, For shingles starched and saucy in white paint, And an old rake rusty with dreams of tangled grass and butterflies. A love For candle flames, like pointed blossoms on their ghostly stems, And frost-forests breathing wonder on the parlor windows.

Somewhere inside of me There must have always been An altar of hewn stones Upon which my love casts these — Burnt offerings — To make a sweet savor Unto my soul.

Give me the strength my God, To scatter my fires and tumble the altar stones in confusion; Give me the strength to raise my eyes, So that hard and sharp across my heart Like shadow cut on mountain rock, Will fall the agony of sunset — So that I can see The laughter of clouds spun into the blue web of infinity, So that my soul can reach out And melt in the sweep of forever Above all these.

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