DC PLACES ISSUE

Kathleen O'Toole

 

LECTIO: LEAVES AT 150

.......................(1)

..........the flutter and fall
.....of Weeping Higan blossoms
along the sidewalks of the capital
.....– weight and weightlessness –
..........the visible and solid earth


................................................................(2)
..................................................…all sacred…
.........................................overstuffed professors,
.................................................spring-thonged student feet
................................grey-haired matrons surfacing
.................................................from the Foggy Bottom Metro
.......................................................totes in hand


................................................................................................................(3)
...................................................................................a wild hawk......a stallion
.........................................................................a duck nesting on a ledge at the Treasury
..............................................................................................creates a stir this spring, as
................................................................March-born lambs and the sow’s faint-pink litter
..............................................................................................................once


.......................(4)
The fiercest, largest passions
still:...... outpouring of pageantry
and tears at the beloved pope’s demise;
another kidnapped civilian pleads
for his life before the camera, before
............his hooded captors


.............................................................................................................(5)
...................................................................................childbirth ......parent death
.....................................................................gates of the body ......gates of the soul
........................................................................................the words reverberate
.....................................................................................multi-vocal ......a floodtide
............................................................................................pleasure’s pain


................................................................(6)
........................................the loose guns of tyrants
........................................................still loose ......their reign
........................................leaving its mark
........................................................the same red running blood
........................................the wounded ......[at Walter Reed, at Bethesda]
......................................................the amputees


.......................(7)
.......................yet
the round and delicious globe
spins ......within rhapsodic minds
reveals ......salmon-tipped azalea about to bud
............chickadee chirp on Constitution
and the striped cat in the long grass at sunset….


................................................................(8)
....................................................mad filaments
................................of stars ......of cigarette butts discarded
........................................glowing still ......refineries
...............................spitting fire ......the flicker of televisions
................................................behind curtained windows
...............................a freight train in the night

.............................................................................................................(9)
..................................................................................................and ......death
...........................................................................holds all parts together

..............................................................................................a child with a flag stares
..........................................................................up at Lincoln’s words in marble

............................................................the embrace of love and resistance
....................................................................................multitudes ......in the distance
.....................................................................................................a trolley’s bell

 

 

Kathleen O'Toole has combined a nearly thirty-year profesional life in community organizing with writing and teaching. She is the author of a book of poems, Practice (Finishing Line Press, 2005), and has published poems in America, Natural Bridge, Poetry, and the Notre Dame Review. She lives in Takoma Park, MD and works for Bread for the World in Washington DC. She notes:" In Benedictine practice, Lectio is an attentive reading of Scripture, one step of which encourages the listener to allow random words or phrases to become the focus of meditation."

 

Published in Volume 7, Number 3, Summer 2006.

 

To read more by this author:
Kathleen O'Toole: The Whitman Issue