Salvation requires so little says Carol Hamilton, praising an old Inuit woman who sat out a blizzard under the snow. The storm raged but the woman didn’t rage. She would live or she would die. She waited to see. When the storm eased, she broke out into sunlight. Neither lost nor found, she made her way home.

I admire such calm, the giving way—to the elements, to what is needed. Sometimes that quiet comes to me—to any of us—the car sliding across black ice, the crash, and that silence in which we wait to hear
is this life, or is it death? And they seem strangely the same.

Other times I try not to thrash about. I clutch, drowning, hour after hour, not for life or safety but for something firm beneath my feet. A teacher of sorts, a man with problems of his own—like all of us— once sang a scrap of song to me. The words are mostly lost, but I hear the line that mattered. Cause I’m already standing on the ground.

Something beneath my feet—the calm itself, resting in it. No matter what, it will be well.

—Sarah Webb

The Wild Red Cry

“…when you hear out of the same twilight the wildest red outcry.” from You are Standing at the Edge of the Woods by Mary Oliver 

While the darkness is a friend,
there are times when it harbors things I do not trust.
The wild red cry is not a stranger
to the ears but it is the harbinger of death 
and of whom we do not know.

In the darkness,
we are blind to the habits of the wild,
yet they are always there.
We are blind to the story
that unfolds without the light of day.
So, we extrapolate from what we know
into what we do not and believe that it is the truth.

There is a finality in that scream.
Is it yours? Or is it ours?
Humanity is estranged from the woods
and has been for millennia.
We do not know where the wild red cry originated,
but we have come to know it,
to savor the taste of the blood that it embodies.
It appears that we cannot get enough
and like the predator in the dark of night,
we hunt for it in the differences between us.

Once, there were animals to be feared
Whether by day or night,
but now humans top that list.
No wonder the other animals shun us, fear us.
No wonder the world is slowly dying.
We are standing at the edge of the woods
wondering when the wild red cry 
will be heard again, not if, but when,
and whose cry will it be?

—Paul Causey

At the Edge of the Woods, Unable to Say It

Indifferent, cold
the working of law.

Or, filled with light
mild, blinding.

Here in the trees
we leave a little of who we are.
In them I don’t stand as tall.
The pines stretch above
and the cliffs.

Water widens. 
Wind slants it with gray,
with lines that trail.

Life is in it
and death.
Cold pierces, teeth tear,
all in that vivid light.

A wind crosses the trees
and all are murmuring.
A fire comes 
and all are burning.

Not this tree’s branches, that tree’s branches,
but a raising and lowering.

One moment a single trunk,
a fistful of needles
alone in its grieving, in its dying.
The next, a green
that spreads along the mountains.

and then night.


caught in edges
mourning, loving, fighting

a trembling of water

—Sarah Webb

In Response to Saigyo: A Prayer

 “let me not spend my life 
                lamenting the world’s sorrows
for above
in the wide sky
the moon shines pure.” Saigyo

Flying is such a joyful thing,
I can’t do it when I’m sad, or angry,
or even when I’m asleep
and don’t feel anything at all.
Which is most of the time really.
You need joy in order to fly.

So please “let me not spend my life
lamenting the world’s sorrows
because being able to fly is such a rare
and beautiful thing.

I’m afraid by lamenting, 
I wouldn’t be able to recognize joy 
when it found me,
and I would miss that terribly.

So please, let me be joyful
let me fly to that beautiful, pure moon
Shining in that vast, wide sky.

Please, let me fly.

—Paul Causey

Ghazal for Gaza

Since all the walls shattered, since they bombed this land,
where will you sleep now, where will you wash, what is your home?

Will you sit in the rubble that once was a street, will you wrap your shawls tighter,
bubble chickpeas in sauce, use bed frames for firewood, is this now your home?

The palm trees still standing, that sway in the rain, the sound of the ocean,
the water that rains in buckets for drinking, is this now your home?

The songs children sing, the clapping adults, the purring of cats,
the siren, the bullet, the beating from soldiers, is all this your home?

I have a house with four walls, that I wish was more infinite,
so I could invite you to rest, to drink water and bathe, and say this is your home.

These words I write may be left on a page, or a screen, in love and in rage.
If you read them and cry, if you read them and smile, say this is your home.

Prayers to Allah, prayers to Jesus, prayers to people, deaf to your calling,
in silence, in speaking, outside in snow, inside in your heart, is this all your home?

I ask of the universe, please, cleave compassion, in dark hearts of men.
Tell them the air that we breathe, the light that we share, this is our home.

—Sol Frye