If you care for me: Luci Shaw

Starling-floxIf you care for me
speak to me without words
in a spiral of starlings
thrown into a bank of wind, scarves
of an invisible dancer
making the sky a stage

Make a negligent gesture like
the drop of a chestnut at my feet
the glossy nucula bounding out of its spiky casing
rolling to me, a gift round
and brown as a chocolate cream

Caress me with a curtain of dew
on my moonlit skylight, or boulders
shining under their clear skin
of rain. In the rock garden
a crimson cosmos articulates
its bright, small world. Speak
to my eyes in syllables of light
and colour, if you care for me

Remind me about space as
I watch the finches
peck at the wind in the balsams. The doe
cleaves the air current over
the ribbon of creek. The great
blue heron elbows its way up
through gaps wild with branches
and you are opening
for me, too, a new passage
between the trees

By the way you breathe dead leaves
into a small whirlwind of fire
show me, if you care for me, how you can
lift me from the dust,
light me like tinder

[Luci Shaw]


At the Church of the Saviour, Washington, D.C. Summer, 1983: Luci Shaw


Leaving outside all heat, and the confusion
of self-consciousness, as my own heart’s latch
lifts, I enter the door to God’s house. The inside
air, cool, blossoms with the scent of multiple
flower heads, and the color.

I find a seat in the circle of others.
As our glances meet, Christ looks out from
the brown eyes and the blue. His presence presses
lightly on us all, each, the unseen hand
moving in blessing from head to head.

Against the wall candles cluster – a benediction of
brown, cream, cinnamon, white – their flames
in the breath-currents moving toward each other
like tongues of fire, like fingers.
In a back row a child makes a soft sound.

A cross unites the space, its arms embracing our
diversity, its shaft both pointing up and reaching
down. As the Word comes incarnate, spoken, broken
once again, love rises in a silent incense, in a unison
of silver sound, from four-score hearts and throats.

Luci Shaw

Bethany Chapel: Luci Shaw

Bethany Chapel

Bracketed between the first
tentative prayers, a silence fills
this place, a shadowed listening
as our separateness seeks out
the Spirit’s focus for this hour
and gathers strength enough
to peer and soar
into small, shining arcs of praise
held at their lower ends
by the old hymns. Christ
in this crowd of rest and rising
humbles himself again to our
humanity; and like the sheep
(trembling in the shearer’s hands)
surrenders to us once more
in quietness.

As at his dark birth and death
we had his body in our fingers,
now, again, we split the whiteness
of his loaf by turns, and tasting
his imaged life against
the cup’s cool rim
we take him in.
Nourished by that final flesh,
that ultimate blood behind
the chosen signs, our God-thoughts,
seeds of worship, multiply to words.
Light flows down to us, and back,
joins us in one body of fire –
one polyphon of light now
sounding out himself –
one flame of singing
burning into being.

Luci Shaw