The Pocket Watch

The Pocket Watch
by Julie Sumner

Time was tightly wound in its gleaming case,
Unleashed in an orderly, constant pace–
It marked the trains as they plowed west to dusk,
The hands on its face refused to be rushed.
The seconds arrayed themselves like soldiers,
Marched lockstep across the machine’s jeweled heart
Then ticked softly into the next hour’s arc
And the movement of moments burned into days,
Despite time tightly wound in its gleaming case.

Ice

Ice
by Julie Sumner

This ice-capped world creaks and moans,
chunks crack off limbs
in the melting sun and
icicles spawn a cloudless rain,
drops littering the white-crusted ground.

The white-crusted ground smooths itself
to glassy slickness,
the possibility of falling
ever-present even when walking,
the off-balanced feel
so much like the feel
of life in this world.
We are all of us walking on ice,
this modern life.
Our balance has become precipice.

If only we watched how the ice melts,
all of its hardness only temporary,
submitting in the sunlight
to flow again in its freer form,
watering the thirsty world
with its blessing.

Prayer for Ash Wednesday

Prayer for Ash Wednesday

Gracious Father,
Please give us a sense of your unfailing love,
Which is based not on any of our works,
But on your unfathomable goodness and the work of your Son–
This is the love that leads to true repentance.
As we sit at Jesus’ feet,
Aware of our hard hearts and wandering minds,
We trust you in your incessant mercy
To make beauty from our ashes.
Amen.

Leon Cathedral

Leon Cathedral
by Julie Sumner

This was an edifice
sculpted with bones–
the ceiling vaulted in
a parabolic curve
like the underside of a rib.

The oak-grained benches
were arranged vertebrally–
a solidarity of structure
for strain-scattered creatures.

The rose window throbbed
as clouds outside buffeted the sunlight,
and thornless scarlet patterns tattooed
the floor’s veined marble skin.

Prayer for the Lengthening Days

Gracious Father,
It seems the world
Is coming unhinged,
We are slack-jawed
At the horrible images
That inundate our vision,
And hope for the good
Seems a luxury we can’t afford.
But teach us the constancy
Of you and your boundless love,
That like the order of our days,
You continue to march forward
With sunlight, carefully measured
To grow into spring and summer,
And wane into fall and winter.
So let the constancy of light,
Constancy of love, which never change,
Be a benediction for our minds today,
Amen.

Making Way

Making Way
by Julie Sumner

The leaded terra-cotta bricks were laid
row on row, stacked solid from front to back.
A known symmetry ordered the entry,
helped navigate each step with cozy clarity.

But rain insinuated its wet caress,
cracks in the mortar yawned as time drawled on,
moss puffed up, green and patchy, like children’s laughter,
and ivy fell down the steps in a wine-soaked haze–
all making way for the scandalous Kingdom
to enter in radiant irregularity.