He died in a munitions explosion,
the exquisite artist
who painted
the tamed bird, an irony,
as the arms were stored and stuffed
into the former home
of the Poor Clares,
sisters to St. Francis,
symbols of mercy.
Hundreds died and we died again,
but the painting left
was a symbol in a symbol-filled world,
thorns and thistles
for a lovely bird
and a kingly crown,
a passion for suffering as again
we turn from the cheek turned
and a dawn's sweet song
and from a day of palm-fretted hosannas
and stuff our children's mouths
with gunpowder,
never dreaming how intricately woven
are the choices we make,
though surely knowing
we shall wear what we have sewn,
and still,
from Calvary to Delft
to our own crucifixions,
some small beauty survives
or is taken out of cold stone

Carol Hamilton was poet laureate of Oklahoma from 1995 to 1997. Her most recent collection of poetry is Breaking Bread, Breaking Silence (Chiron Review Press).

Have Something to Say?

Add or Read Comments on
Launch Comments
By commenting here, I agree to abide by the Sojourners Comment Community Covenant guidelines