altar of agnostic heresy
at seven years old the world
was still its own mystery;
fresh & shiny like a new penny
yet to be in circulation
& largely undiscovered
in its mad grimy detail.
living in the woods, then,
just like living in the woods now
except: closer to the ground
& trees waving taller
in the breezes.
mundane to you
was magic to me –
sunlight exploding from the tops of trees,
the rustling possibility of a rabbit in dry leaves,
infinite shades & qualities of dirt.
silent in Nature
there & only there
could I hear myself.
summer days, I sneaked away into the woods
earnest as a lover rushing, blushing, to a tryst
& found sublime nothing, after hours
& hours of not looking.
humming some fragmented
off-key tune, sprawling in the cool duff
at the base of an old & trusted comrade, oak by name,
playing at private ritual
as though by rote, invoking a dangerous freedom:
miniature golden Mary on the left,
surrounded by glitter & sequins,
or were they sunbeams? & noble Jesus,
no bigger than my fingertip,
robes flowing in brass tones, to the right.
hour after hour, until the sunlight ceased to play
through the sparse leafy roof
& twilight rendered
all things grey regardless
of their proper daytime tints,
the messiah & his mother came to life in my hands,
speaking volumes half-inaudible,
celebrated, initiated, praised, vowed, blessed,
blended into the roots of the complicit oak,
housed in fallen leaves arching cathedral-style
over their little metallic bodies flashing light…
& together with the sky
Jesus & Mary & I built
a tiny temple
in the dirt.