About Sarah McElrath

A seeker, looking to find truth and wisdom in the world and through art, I work as a school librarian, writing and painting when I have time.

Day 31 – Poetry for Lent

Which came first

The fog came first
long before the crows
but history -- or, if this were
   a different sort of poem, 
       one of those pretentious poety poems,
the mists of time --
will remember the black birds
as harbingers of the
inescapable white mist that
smothered everything, deadening
the world, white-washing the landscape 
until roads, houses, trees, beach, and water
were bleached into a silvery white that vanished
any horizon.

For their part
the crows were simply grounded
the distinction between air and ground
no longer finite. 
To be clear
there was no murder of crows
just two, male and female,
and they were 
   shall we say
whiling away their downtime
by engaging in some sort of 
mating dance
   a precursor of Corvus copulating, no doubt
that involved much hopping, preening
and occasional pecking
    not necessarily in that order.

Truth be told
   as it is even here upon occasion
the rumors of harbingers started
when the raucous birds finished
their mating machinations.
A silver dollar sun strove through the haze
defining shore and sea
earth and air
the mist sending smoke signals into
a startled blue sky

and we saw it all.

Day 30 – Poetry for Lent

Too much North

There is too much North in the wind
men turn up their collars
women put their heads down
rushing to their destinations
without lingering to look
around
the leaves scuttle down the road 
as if suddenly aware
it's now Spring
and they missed the autumn gathering
Daffodils close their buds tight
refusing to wake
before the heat is turned up

There's too much North in the air
park benches sit empty
playground equipment languishes
forlorn
swings swaying empty in the breeze
birds hunker down
into feathered poofs while the
bird bath becomes a skating rink
even the grass genuflects
hoping to avoid 
the wind's ire

There's too much North in the wind
he says but I only grin
shrugging into my coat and hat
before going out to
revel


Day 29 – Poetry for Lent

Gone to the birds

Two Pileated Woodpeckers interrupted
my coffee making this morning.
One dwarfs the feeder
a small-scale pterodactyl,
red-crested head bobbing energetically 
as sharp ivory bill
carves out chunks of suet flesh.
Its prehistoric mate
crabwalks sideways on the ground below,
head cocked one way, then another
searching for prey before
extracting some tasty morsel 
with surgical precision.

The turkeys show up next
all twenty-nine of them.
I sit by the slider and 
sip coffee while 
the jakes put on a show
like body builders at the beach
jostling each other in 
masculine power plays.
Puffed up and strutting
they drag their wings
and fan tail feathers 
angling them just so
to impress the ladies
But I'm the only female watching
The hens pay no mind
more interested in filling
their stomachs then checking
out the biggest and
best turkey.

Finally, with a sigh,
I go about my day,
morning having already
gone to the birds.

Day 26 – Poetry for Lent

Humanity’s Crazy Quilt

We stitch this quilt together,
panels of light and dark,
bright patterns sewn next
to those of somber hue.

The design not always one
of our own choosing,
we work with what we have,
a crazy quilt crafted from
bits and pieces of our lives.

We dream and plan in colorful
coordinated patterns of delight
with lustrous materials -
gossamer and ermine,
gaudy choices reflect
energy and youth.

But life is full of unexpecteds -
scratchy burlap work days
that irritate and exhaust,
pale washed-out squares of sickness,
grim funeral clothes 
stitched to pastel baby blankets
and lacy white bridal gowns
join seams with gaudy vacation shirts
or gray and black suits of mourning.

No one knows the pattern 
of their days,
how wide or long
their life will be.

Therefore
savor those bright fabrics.
Approve the sections formed
of sturdy cloth that endure,
softening with the years.
And pray that when all
panels are sewn and stitched,
and humanity's quilt is finished
- as it shall be in time -
your square holds up well
and is pleasing to the
Master Quilter's eye.

Day 25 – Poetry for Lent

Tolkien & Lewis

I am currently reading A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War: How J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, and Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-1918 by Joseph Loconte. The book goes into the effects of the war on the political and religious landscape of the West. It delves into how Tolkien’s and Lewis’s experiences in the trenches inspired and played into the imaginary worlds they are so known for as writers.

I was thinking about the book when I went out in the hot tub with my daughter. The sky was clear and the stars were incredible. It all seemed so serene despite the horrors of battle still playing out in my head. This poem stems from that.

The Great War marches in
and battle fills the air
with the cries of the wounded
the pleas and prayers of the dying.
Explosions jar bones
loosen teeth
the throaty roars of heavy artillery
drowning out the staccato 
rattle of small arms.

Above it all
the stars shine
pin-pricks in black velvet
allowing a glimpse
of the beautiful light
high beyond this present darkness.

Caught by the machines of war
new realms form
and faith is forged.

Day 23 – Poetry for Lent

Taking Home With Us

Poem read by Sarah McElrath
The stars shine high
     above the clouds
     above the bombs
        which scatter us like dust
        every which way
        looking to settle
        but driven by winds
          of war
          and fear.

We try to take home with us
     a teddy bear for security
        of which we have none
     a photograph of family
        many whom have died
     a blue china tea pot -
     keepsake from happier times
        now hard to remember
     a heart burning with hope
        for a future
        for safety
        for a place to build
           to plant and grow roots
           find neighbors and friends.

We dream of things we have lost
and hold tight to what we still have. 

Day 22 – Poetry for Lent

Daffodils

It would be easier
to sleep
blanket of snow
tucked over your head
dreaming of sunny 
spring days

It is so difficult
to bloom
to turn your face up and 
greet the new day
when it is cold 
and lonely

But you, brave daffodil
brighten everyone’s winter
days just by being
and winter will not
last forever

One day the sun 
will kiss you
awake
and you will trumpet
your joy to the world