April 24: Brooks Haxton's "Three Lilies"

A poem for Easter morning, from Uproar: Antiphonies to Psalms, by Brooks Haxton. In his preface to these poems, which answer back to or jump off from the psalms he learned in childhood, Haxton reflects on “the challenge of letting the Psalms, like any art that matters, find us where we live.” One pleasure of Haxton’s poetic reactions to the Psalms is the intertwining of contradictory responses—he captures the beauty of ambivalence, which seems to enhance our aesthetic experience of creation and even of religious feeling.

Three Lilies

     Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in
     the morning. Psalm 30

Before dawn, under a thin moon disappearing
east, the planet Mercury, the messenger
and healer, came up vanishingly
into the blue beyond the garden where
three lilies at the bottom of the yard
arrayed white trumpets on iron stalks
under a slow, slow lightning from the sun.
I stood on a rotten step myself,
and smelled them from a hundred feet away.

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