By BJ Ward
I know I don’t hold road as sacred
as hawk must hold air,
through Bald Eagle State Forest
I must have glimpsed a little
of that wind religion.
Warblers strum the instruments of their bodies
in rivergrass fresh with snake musk.
They are belting,
all of them belting,
We are here!
We are here!
Yes this is where we are!
This is what I want to be—
an extension of something here,
that sweet something that won’t grasp you
or be grasped—that dark,
sugary, evolving something.
It’s that air, that road
between my ribs.
I know the exact size of my bones
the way hawk knows angle,
circumference, the perfect geometry of be.
It’s the inherent knowledge,
the only religion
we can believe in
by praying solely within the cathedrals
of our own bodies.
after seeing the flowing and dipping,
gliding and gyring,
can argue that hawk
is not an extension
The spruce rise like nine thousand steeples
and if I could
stop this car
on this road
that never seems to end
I would kneel before this blue altar of sky.
Yes, this is where I am,
the religion I know for now.
It is found in the personal,
the slow revelations that have always
been true for me, the ones I'm just coming to
in this state forest.
in the cracked angling of pines,
a wind stirs up inside me.
From Jackleg Opera: Collected Poems, 1990 to 2013 by BJ Ward, published by North Atlantic Books, copyright © 2013 by BJ Ward. Reprinted by permission of publisher. BJ Ward is the author of four books of poetry, most recently Jackleg Opera: Collected Poems 1990-2013, which received the Paterson Award for Literary Excellence. His poems have appeared in Poetry, American Poetry Review, TriQuarterly, The New York Times, The Normal School, and The Sun. He is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and two Distinguished Artist Fellowships from the NJ State Council on the Arts. His website is www.bj-ward.com.
Featured image courtesy Nicholas A. Tonelli / CC
Discover more of our poetry series by selecting Parks & Points & Poetry