It cut the fresh young rose in the garden,
Just beyond the hospital grounds
On the other side of the cemetery;
The side grove reserved for pets
Was busier than ever this year;
Why were the pets dying?
Or were the people’s numbers growing?
But why weren’t the people dying?
Only pet burials disturbed the peace
Of the season-rich, softly perfumed bowl;
The girls brought milk and pastry
To Mr. Coleman’s door and laughing,
Singing, dreaming of love walked away;
In the evening, when he greeted them again
From the red bench in the orchard
As they walked home from school
They asked him if he knew the birds,
The seagulls by the sea that stared
At the sunsets on his key chain pendant;
Have you tried to socialize with birds?
They asked innocently and honestly,
Why don’t they let us in, Mr. Coleman?
The birds have locked us out of their eyes
Out of their beach, out of their sight.
His key chain glittered
In the dying sun rays
Every day, every dusk
Anew, as if reborn;
The girls glanced at it with longing,
Sighed their eyes aways,
Deep and blue like wells,
In the bearing of the sunset shadows
It wrought on the dusty path
Covered in sun-kissed leaves.
On the Fifth Day they were born,
the birds, but on the Seventh
They were chained and encrusted
In diamonds and gold as ornaments
On the immaculate, splendid frieze
Of Mr. Coleman’s key chain.
The birds pried on them
Through the heavy trees
Mistresses of the chain of their eternity
Framed with golden locks
Like the sacred rings
In Mr. Coleman’s ancient hand,
The man in the orchard
They knew too well;
A ring for each maid
Was there pre-destined
Her heart’s choice,
Her desire’s election & affinity,
But the birds remained indifferent cold,
Down by the water
In the heaving waves,
Vain tumult, empty threat,
The soft power of the surf,
Infinite yet held in the golden rings —
Their wedding rings —
In Mr. Coleman’s diamond key-chain,
The vain things not in vain,
Vanitas that nourish & edify
Bind all sinful, fallen matter
Betwixt the soul & its marrow.
If Niniveh fell “all because of
the wanton lust of a harlot,”
Mr. Coleman’s orchard blossoms
Each happy, glorious Spring anew
For the young girls’ ringed promise,
Their wedding ring redeeming
All creation, all vanity, all desire
In the eternal Christian order of things,
Learning their language
Each day anew, into infinity.