Tuesday, May 18, 2004

To see the lizard there,
I was amazed I did not have to beat
My breast with a stone.

If a lion lounged nearby,
He must have curled in a shadow of cypress,
For nobody shook a snarled mane and stretched out
To lie at my feet.

And for a moment,
I did not see Christ retching in pain, longing
To clutch his cold abdomen,
Sagging, unable to rise or fall, the human
Flesh torn between air and air.

I was not even
Praying, unless: no,
I was not praying.

A rust branch fell suddenly
Down from a dead cypress
And blazed gold. I leanded close.
The deep place in the lizard's eys
Looked back into me.

Delicate green sheaths
Folded into one another.
The lizard was alive,
Happy to move.

But he did not move.
Neither did I.
I did not dare to.

-- Jerome in Solitude, by James Wright

The lion is the companion-animal of Saint Jerome, the lion traditionally appears in paintings at the saint's feet while Jerome leans over his translations of the Bible. This poem caught my eye last night. I've read that we're to take nature as a gift from God and I think Wright captures that well here. I particularly liked the missing lion, maybe curled in the shadows of the cypress, and then a rust branch falling, blazing gold in the sunlight, like the lion moving.

I need to seek that state Jerome finds in the poem. I let some newsman's Iraq opinions upset me last night. He was coming at The Bush team from the right, saying we are throwing away our opportunities by not putting Saddam on trial now. The word is that the Iraqi's will try Saddam in 2006, but here we are with this prison abuse story rolling over the Arab world while the master abuser sits in seclusion. If Saddam's trial were held now, it would be his face and his generals faces that the Middle East would be watching on television. It would be their mass murders that would be the news and not these few, these twisted Americans.

Ah, well. I don't want the seeming truth of that to ruin today. Instead, I will work and listen for the rustling lion in the cypress. I will work and look for the turning peace of a green lizard's eye.

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