Preaching of the Birds
Yesterday on the feast of St. Francis, I thought—if he were here,
preaching to the birds, wrapped in his tunic of everyday, his holy knees
would sink to my dying grass, one hand pressed to the rough breast
of Sister Earth, one lifted skyward in benediction of all flight.
The winged would settle quiet, content to roost and preen his every
word into each feather, so that later each golden note of courage
would lift, float under their hurtling bodies like afternoon
angels blowing updrafts, thermals of divine daring, contrails marking
the good fight, the hard business of shouldering onward, scraping
insects and droplets of water to nourish this fragile
life, the only one given, gives itself away, or is taken by others.
Violence snaps in the bushes, creeps at the edges
of the lawn, but Francis sits cross-legged in the center, his frayed
cloak breezed wide as a hawk as he lifts voice in fluid
melody, his chest expanding lyric, offers praise of the great
Goodness who reverberates new hum eternal, the one true warble
of leaf and sunshine and dew, of treetop and sky-tuned beak,
of peeping tufted bundles and sure first yellow shafts of day.
Everything else—here his notes crest higher, brush the blue
underskirt of eternity—everything else lies outside the light, outside
our soft nested peace. Today, full of his joy, their throats spilled over
his sermon to me, and I awoke unbound as those disciples of the air.
Originally appeared in Litany of Flights
Laura Reece Hogan is the author of Litany of Flights (Paraclete Press, 2020), which won the Paraclete Poetry Prize, the chapbook O Garden-Dweller (Finishing Line Press, 2017), and the nonfiction spiritual theology book I Live, No Longer I (Wipf and Stock, 2017). I Live, No Longer I and O Garden-Dweller were awarded Catholic Press Association Book Awards. A Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, she is one of ten poets featured in the anthology In a Strange Land (Cascade Books, 2019). Her poems have appeared in America Magazine, U.S. Catholic, First Things, The Christian Century, Dappled Things, Whale Road Review, The Cresset, Anglican Theological Review, Relief, Cumberland River Review, Trinity House Review, EcoTheo Review and other publications. She earned a B.A. from Rice University in Houston, Texas, a J.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law, and an M.A. in theology from St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo, California. She is a professed Third Order Carmelite and lives in Southern California with her family. She can be found online at www.laurareecehogan.com.