Living in this World

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Old Gods & The Winter Coat

The old gods

The old gods
the gods of fire and flood
of wind and thunder
are loose in the world again.

For ages they slept
our loyalty transferred
to a new God
and to our prideful selves.
Mining the earth for riches
controlling flood and fire
heady and smug with mastery
we felt no need
for their good will.

But we poked at where they slumbered
pierced deep through their crust
messed with their air
thickened and fouled their watery home.
Heedless and unafraid
we tickled their toes.

Slowly, slowly
they stirred, grew restive, roused
smelled the intrusion
started to growl
then roar
with howling wind and raging flood
searing heat and fire

Their fury unleashed
by the devastation wrought
through our idolatrous belief
that we have mastery
of earth.

It’s time to heed the ancient ways again
bow down to fire and wind
in all their power
give thanks for tree and water
seek for gifts and lives acceptable
to these old gods.

The Winter Coat

No private fitting rooms here
just a big mirror on the wall between
used ladies coats and sweaters.
I’ve been lured by the half-price sale,
my long-loved winter coat
now near its end.

An older woman in a red coat
asks the woman closest
how it looks.
I assume they are together
keep my counsel.
Another woman comes up to the mirror
A pair of shiny pants pulled over her own,
They chat and I realize we’re all a part of this.
When she comes back in another pair
I comment on how great they look.
She says she thought the black coat
I’d tried on was mine
it fit so well.
But even at half price
it’s more than I had planned to pay.

I look in the mirror again.
The woman in the red coat
inspects me critically
points out a spot on the collar
and some wear around the cuffs.
Not hard to fix she assures me
and I could adjust the buttons if I want.
I go back to the green coat
roomier and more practical in many ways
at half the price.
But she says no
It isn’t me.
It makes me look old.

How could she be so sure?
We’ve only just met.
Yet secretly
I was thinking the same.
Her certainty
is what I need.

Back in my old coat
(it will last a while yet)
I thank her for the chance to shop together
and go out warmed from the inside
by sociability
and a stranger
who assumed her welcome.