Three Weddings (and no Funeral) image

Three Weddings (and no Funeral)

For an Island Wedding

Once there was an inland sea,
its waters blue and beautiful
with absence, for there was nothing else
and this was once upon a time.

Out of this sea an island rose,
its conifers green with abundance,
its reaches white where the waves climbed,
and this was once upon a time.

Out of the island there rose a town,
its streets busy with men,
its harbor brown with boats
busy with cargoes of the time.

Out of the town a church was raised,
its walls in all simplicity
contained like hands the faith
and the fervor of that time.

And out of this church that rose from the town
that rose from the island that rose from the sea
a man and woman came and joined.
Their love was green with abundance
and white where the waves climbed
and beautiful and blue. And it held like hands
in all simplicity our time,
and other times and once upon a time.

Sleeping Late

We slept until the clocks ran down,
the wedding flowers dried to dust,
the gas man disconnected us.
Days without sound
the spiders darned and starved.

The world returned to work but we did not.
Steeply slanted into sleep,
dream after dream as things should be,
we followed the overtures of our vows
on tides of understanding to where two
together is sufficient and entire,
and marriage a radiant equipoise.

Our quest—for nothing less
than Eden and its innocence—embraced
exalted gardens all across the earth.
But innocence, we learned at last,
is not a state of grace we lose at birth,
then work a lifetime to recover.
It’s what a lifelong hunger self-creates.
At the ending of love’s labors, ours and yours,
it is the blessing that awaits.

These Are the Conditions

Two souls on separate voyages,
not just beginning but well begun,
knowing enough of the world
but still in love with what is good.

This is how it happens.
A passionate perceiving, a beholding
of a second center to the world,
a blossoming of incompletion.

This is where it goes.
In the single tending of the two
the voyages converge
and, soul subsumed in soul, the two are one.

And this is how it ends. It never does.
Love is the gentle absence of many other things.
It will be the last thing left, the final trace
when our kind is finally done.

John Barr / from this Archive, What it Means to be Human

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