FOR THE NEW YEAR, 1981: DENISE LEVERTOV
I have a small grain of hope—
one small crystal that gleams
clear colors out of transparency.
I need more.
I break off a fragment
to send you.
this grain of a grain of hope
so that mine won’t shrink.
Please share your fragment
so that yours will grow.
Only so, by division,
will hope increase,
like a clump of irises, which will cease to flower
unless you distribute
the clustered roots, unlikely source—
clumsy and earth-covered—
And after the empty tomb
when they told me He lived, had spoken to Magdalen,
told me that though he had passed through the door like a ghost
He had breathed on them the breath of a living man—
even then when hope tried with a flutter of wings to lift me—
still, alone with myself, my heavy cry was the same:
Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.
I needed blood to tell me the truth,
the touch of blood.
Even my sight of the dark crust of it round the nailholes
didn’t thrust its meaning all the way through to that manifold knot in me
that willed to possess all knowledge,
refusing to loosen unless that insistence won the battle I fought with life.
But when my hand led by His hand’s firm clasp entered the unhealed wound,
my fingers encountering rib-bone and pulsing heat,
what I felt was not scalding pain, shame for my obstinate need,
but light, light streaming into me, over me,
filling the room as if I had lived till then in a cold cave,
and now coming forth for the first time,
the knot that bound me unravelling,
I witnessed all things quicken to color, to form,
my question not answered but given its part
in a vast unfolding design lit by a risen sun.