Psalm of Roses, Wrecks, and Coming Up for Air

For this one cold slip of sun
skimming the anniversary roses and
the yellow dog rumpled in the best chair
that lands in a triangle on the brown rug;

for sisters in gray braids and print dresses,
plump and adorable in church,
whose trust in Jesus never fails;
for a repetition of prayers for mercy
when there is none, or good in the vale of evil,
the ride over trembling bridges
and tight turnpikes, the stalls and blown tires,
the moving again through tears after wrecks,
the year left behind like sneakers in the garage;

for stuff I'm throwing out,
words I thought necessary,
messages that saved my life,
my mother of the bride dress and red shoes,
for empty spaces clean as silence
and breathing that keeps on giving;

for being old and knowing there's little
I can do, and if the world survives,
my children and friend's grandchildren
will save it along with the willows
that don't stop leafing and the muddy frogs
coming up for air and the angels
I have seen with my own eyes;

for a bed that gathers me in
with the wise darkness and twittering clock,
the blankets shaped to my bones,
pillows ready and willing.

For the song that comes morning and evening.
Bless the Lord, ye mighty hosts,
Bless the Lord, my little soul.

About the Author

Barbara Esch Shisler

Barbara Esch Shisler is a retired pastor and great-grandmother living in Souderton, Pennsylvania with Harold, her husband of 62 years, and their cairn terrier. She has been writing poems since her teacher in a Michigan two-room country school praised her first poem about flowers. Nick Lindsay of Goshen College mentored her in two chapbooks in the early days of Pinch Penny Press. Two more poetry collections, stories and essays have emerged from her writing life.