As Close as Breathing

Listen to Mark Jarman reading this poem.

Called or not called, God is present.
Delphic oracle

The flicker doesn’t know his call’s not needed,
But he’s not calling God. He lifts his beak
To show his black bib, as the females chuckle
Off in the oaks somewhere. They hear him all right.
The metal gutters make a fine percussion.

If God is present, why then aren’t we talking?

The sugar water feeder stews in the sunshine.
The mud daubers fall asleep there, suckling.
The hummingbirds blur past. Last summer
One came with a ruby wart on her neck,
An imperfection that was almost perfect.

Does God assume our silence is a call?

If I write down the day I see the first swift
(Never the same day but always April),
It’s not a prayer, though it may count as one.
They like grade schools where one cold chimney stands,
An obelisk in a cloud of darting hieroglyphs.

Words too can be as close to us as breathing.

A spider’s dragline, glinting like a thought,
Trolls through the depths of shade and morning light.
The hemlock limbs bob as if at anchor.
And a pair of downy woodpeckers swoops up
To the seed bell at my study window. Everything answers.

Everything says back, “I am present, too.”