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My Heart in Hiding

[from G. M. Hopkins, whose "heart in hiding" in "Windhover" is stirred by a bird]

January, 1968, one twilight,
alone in Ithaca
(not the Greek island,
swarming with false suitors, but
the college town in New York,
swarming with students and professors),

recently divorced, in my rented room,
I looked up from freshman English papers
out my icy window
at nothing but slate-gray winter,
the only warm color outside or inside
being my red-penciled scribbles
all over my student's papers

("AWK!" for awkward, "SP?" for
spelling, and "How does this
follow?" and all the little rhetorical-
surgical efforts to extract thought
from meat infected with
inarticulate soul and garnished
with false transitions: dead-ended
therefores, headless and tailless
thuses, consequentlys and so-we-sees),

so that for a moment
the gray blankness outside
was a relief or at least
a mirror for my life;
and then I thought,
not in these words precisely, but
something like

"Give me a sign, Lord,
a comet, a streak of color,
something to suggest
there's life on earth,
a future..." and just then

a cardinal flew past my window,
little more than a red line
(like the thread that strips open
a Band-Aid, or the line of blood
along the cut to be covered),
so much brighter, straighter and simpler
than my labored scrawls

and so obviously an answer
that each cardinal I see since then
(for my life DID change soon after)
seems an old friend, God
winking at me, sharing with me
the joke of a winter day.

 

(c) Dean Blehert, 2014. All Rights Reserved

Last updated: December 25, 2014