Little Altars Everywhere


Bring me your pain, love. Spread
it out like fine rugs, silk sashes,
warm eggs, cinnamon
and cloves in burlap sacks. Show me

the detail, the intricate embroidery
on the collar, tiny shell buttons,
the hem stitched the way you were taught,
pricking just a thread, almost invisible.

Unclasp it like jewels, the gold
still hot from your body. Empty
your basket of figs. Spill your wine.

That hard nugget of pain, I would suck it,
cradling it on my tongue like the slick
seed of pomegranate. I would lift it

tenderly, as a great animal might
carry a small one in the private
cave of the mouth.

– Ellen Bass, “Basket of Figs”

Little Altars Everywhere


You would be meandering by
Wasting your while
This world is not worth living under the sky
If you haven’t tasted your soul water
Other delights will turn bitter
Open your inner eye
Feel the inner wind blowing
Inhale the fragrance
Listen to the sound of the water flowing
Become your own lover
Open the folds bit by bit
Use your innocence to see
Not your worldliness
That will make it flee
The soul water is pure
Crystal clear
Drink it
Drown in it
Anoint yourself with it

– Renu Rakheja, “Soul Water”

Little Altars Everywhere


When the smallness of my vision
Dampens all hope inside, I simply watch
And these clumsy feet keep moving.

When what could have been
Turns bitter and dusty from wear
I feel the tiniest move as a miracle.

When the bit is cold in my mouth and
When daylight reveals only a potholed
Road, just the sound of my feet can comfort.

Rising up from this pain is not grand or special
If it says anything it says stardust knows
It says come with me just one more time.

Miracles always have their own strange rhythm
To know them is to place power into the possible
And God is as surprised as anyone when they happen.

– Dale Biron, “Miracles”

Little Altars Everywhere


A garden inside me, unknown, secret,
neglected for years,
the layers of its soil deep and thick.
Trees in the corners with branching arms
and the tangled briars like broken nets.

Sunrise through the misted orchard,
morning sun turns silver on the pointed twigs,
I have woken from the sleep of ages and I am not sure
if I am really seeing, or dreaming,
or simply astonished
walking towards sunrise
to have stumbled into the garden
where the stone was rolled from the tomb of longing.

– David Whyte, “Easter Morning in Wales”

Little Altars Everywhere


Every day
I see or hear
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for —
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world —
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant —
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help

but grow wise
with such teachings
as these —
the untrimmable light

of the world,
the ocean’s shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?

– Mary Oliver, “Mindful”