There is an old rugged cross on top of Vesper Hill,
at a place in the unimportant hills around the Youghiogheny,
a church camp -- everything you thought a place like that should be:
fires in the nightwoods, fervent altar calls, intensities
counterpointed with softball games and furtive explorations.
One late evening, in 1977 by the two by six white cross,
perched up from a pile of the ubiquitous sandstone that lay
strewn in the third-growth tangle of laurel and adolescent maple,
The dark solitude hoped for was attained,
and beauty was apophasis,
the zodiac and a pious congregation of fireflies
mingled enlightened, catephatically.
I go there, time travelling, now on the green bare knoll.
My old friends are lesser now, the old caretaker long dead
and his replacement we just buried.
The new mown grass they just cut and the river mist,
the fields at rest, exhaling from the sunwork of the day,
the touch of fires long gone out and the nightwind murmuring
the song the surf on ocean sound:
breathe, urban chest and sedentary, breathe
the anodyne air.
Here, high and dark, but for the silver gleaming.
You, there and everywhere:
the finding at the cross,
always, at every loss,
I have thirty five years of new memory and new friends,
but they are older than the old ones, frailer, windblown
weathered, time torn.
Thou, Lifegiver on Vesper Hill
transmute the past
and change this time,
Take these determined libertines,
these darkened trends of passionate ends,
these wonted ires of dialectical fires,
these political thrusts of childish distrusts,
these unwitting tools of rich young fools,
these teenage passions for old transgressions,
these alarums, these turmoils, these alacrities to portend
a foreigner, when in the eastern light
it was a Friend.
are obeisances to the Iron Crown,
They are mountainous, lugubrious
in a Gnostic, post-Constantinian vein.
What about the older canons, before the cassocks
and the boundary lines, the tutelage of the Borgia rhymes,
before the habits of The Prince:
What about the canon of the cross and wind,
the arched paternity of sabbath rest,
the one that goes Let us love each other
so that with one accord we may confess?
What about that canon,
forgotten in time
buried by the rest?
Satan, get thee behind me,
This gray mountain to the sea.
Thou, Vesper Wind, whisper peace again amongst the leaves,
wend and waft where You wish,
make us born again.
Here, at the real Vesper Hill,
I pray and stay.