Maureen Eppstein

A Power Like Sunrise

The Quickening
Amethyst Geode
Fallen Sticks
The Running of the Deer


First published in:
Bellowing Ark Vol 11 No. 3 (1995)



The Quickening

The touch is delicate,
like a petal brushing against the wrist,
but not accidental. Deliberate --
a message that initiates you to a mystery,
and you know, beyond book-learning,
beyond the sonogram's blurred proof,
that the message comes from another being,
inside yourself, but not
your self, a new life asserting itself
with a power like sunrise brightening the morning sky,
a rivulet cascading over rocks,
a green shoot shattering its hard, black seed.


First published in:
convolvulus #5 (Summer 1993)



Amethyst Geode

This half-round weight in my hand, crumb-
coated with rough gray lava, shows me no
reason for glistening pyramids the color
of violets. There was no light
in the rock womb of their growing.

I reach down to the core of this mystery, the place
where transformation happens, where what we think
we know becomes not so,
where what I am becomes some other thing --
my breath misting this purple surface
part of the same breath that began it.

My substance is that of earth
and air and water, all interchangeable
forms of the same elements.
Fire is the constant, transforming reality.
In molten lava that churned and boiled
from earth's fiery core, this geode began
as a bubble of air. Water
explored the rock's substance, made
alliance with atoms of silicon,
led them to the small round cave where they
arranged themselves slowly, according to
a pattern they know, the way our bodies
know to make hands and eyes.

This is not random stuff. Nor is
the arrangement of a violet's five petals more random
than the five sides of these amethyst crystals.
And no more fixed. Nor are my hands
that hold this former bubble, translucent as water
but now more solid than the lava
that once enclosed it. I am connected
to the flower and to the rock, our forms ephemeral,
our common substances continuing.


First published in:
convolvulus #10 (Fall 1994)



Fallen Sticks

Sticks white as infants' bones litter deep duff
here in this corner hard by the main gate
of Bromley Cemetery,
but hidden from view by massive cypresses.
I've brought no flowers.
There is no slab for them to wither on.
Beyond this corner, tight-packed
ranks of gravestones halt abruptly,
marking a boundary
between the public dying and the deaths
not spoken of.

It took me thirty years to come.
I stand imagining
the undertaker with a tiny box,
a hasty spade,
remembering how hastily I also
hid the knowledge that connects me to this place.
I drink in details,
knowing I may never come again:
trash caught in the hedge,
broken branches sinking back to earth,
low sunlight catching shallow dimples
where some bird or rodent has been digging.
Also blackbirds singing,
sparrows coming home to roost.

Voices whisper:
We are many, the babies in unmarked graves.
We lay quiet in each others' arms,
comforting each other. We became
the cypress cones and needles that have grown and fallen
and grown again.
We are the bird that eyes you from that patch of sunlight.
We are the rustlings in the hedge.

Leave your token anywhere, they tell me.
We are everywhere.
Under the largest tree I clear a patch of earth
and spell my daughter's name in fallen sticks,
knowing that soon some other part of her
will scrabble them aside and dig
another hole.


First published in:
Bellowing Ark Vol 10, No. 5 (1994)



The Running of the Deer

Paul Caponigro, White Deer Running
Wicklow, Ireland, 1967. Silver print.

Suddenly I am come home

is this what Jung meant?
this luminous rent in the gray
fog confining my thoughts to here and now
urban street festive in frosty sunlight
knowledge that slow shutter speed captures

the way it was
warm twilight at forest edge
this summer of good hunting poised
to roll downhill into dark
knowing leaves will fall
from trees now heavy with green mystery
sleet will wail round walls of a smoky hut
children will die hungry

but in this moment
this magical blur of the great herd running
glimpsing a new mystery
knowledge that darkness is not forever
the sun will return


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Updated: March 25, 1998