Three Poems ~ Ingrid Wendt


It doesn’t have to be morning, I used to say. Or even
Every day. But now it’s three whole months at home again

And nothing but aching for Mexico, where

No matter the mundane tasks—an Olympus of
Correspondence to conquer, laundry that had to be hung

During a break in the storm—

I once could mount steep wooden stairs to a high-peaked loft
Under a palm-thatched, jungle-palapa roof—

Loft which was my sacred space:

Sounds of large wings flapping, unseen, over my head
Sacred as that one blue stained-glass window over the altar

Which so many years ago carried me high above every

Long, long sermon.  Sacred: that one single
Chord upon which all of Bach’s

B Minor Mass revolves, the polar star, long scarves of Northern lights

Swaying, twisting, green streaks
Fading to white, dancing

Across the whole dark sky over my head, turned up

In wonder—and words
I thought were gone forever

Would always return, though slowly,

The way the first
Tentative birds greet the dawn:  Mockingbird,

Kiskadee, Great-Tailed Grackle straggling in and

Then the chorus: what we learn to sleep through
When we need to, what we forget

Will be right there, come dawn, come bedtime, come

Whatever time and place will
Open us up to just

One, small moment of radiance, where

The sacred resides, and anything can happen – like memories
Winging Their way to my fingertips, shimmering

Flashes of birds in the jungle— like

The path through these words, which took three
Long months to appear, and came to me here, at home, in my own

Patio garden, late last evening, during the heat wave, watering.

Awakened Too Early, I Consider the Nature of Beauty

Again this morning the same Tropical Mockingbird (in-between
flitting from branch to branch, gulping down berries) pours out

non-stop every tune its DNA-programmed brain can sing:

trills of warblers, trills of canaries, house finch tremolos,
coloraturas of house wrens and even

birds who never venture this far south:  heavenly solos

that could be taken for glad
tidings—Look! The sun!—that could be brave

refusals to echo my own despair of a world headed

down the path of destruction:  bird
who only yesterday chased away the larger, fatter,

yellow-bellied Kiskadee, claiming

all these thousands of berries for its very own, though clearly
no bird stomach could have that much room.  Cruel

bird, whose California cousin I once watched

peck to death a nest of newly-hatched mourning doves,
then skedaddle. How

can a bird who sings with the voices of cherubim

be so horrible? This
I ponder, though I know better:

beauty and goodness are not always on the same team.

Bless this bird who has no concept of savagery.
Bless each holy interlude of my forgetting.

Poem Ending with an Adaptation of a Line by William Stafford

Red sun in the morning, but I’m on land, drifting,
drifting, and only the nearby owl cries “sailors’ warning,”
if that’s what it is and not a call for celebration. My choice,
I’ve been told, and yes: so many daily wonders

to choose from. To walk to the rocky edge of the sea
to greet the dawn, to walk the narrow, packed dirt road
through a jungle just now waking, a chorus of birds,
to be able to walk at all, to snorkel, to be

right here, where I’m working
hard at being alert, to letting myself fully accept each
and every invitation. But call to me as it will, the world
receives not my full attention, my mind wanders

from one undone task to another, guilt nibbles
the edges of joy that used to be mine, all the while
I’m putting on walking shoes, never expecting,
in the stillness rising from the very depths of my being,

where my beloved, my anchor, resides, these words,
gentle, as he was, and firm:
“You’re doing just what you should.”
The whole wide world pours in.