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Varieties of Religious Experience.

I am a deeply religious non-believer ...
      This is a somewhat new kind of religion.
                             --Albert Einstein
A mad scrum
           of molecules
                              into light long before
           someone breathed out
                             and thought
                                        to ask for reference,
              require meaning,
                            expecting that
                                         such silence constituted the
back-lit estuaries of our lives
                                           and would lead back,
necessarily, to some initial sea.
                                   Leaves in a whirlpool, rain showers
            across the fields,
                           an offering of smoke against the grey
               horizon's grid--
                             we worked up
                                          theories for our fears
             maintaining, nonetheless,
                                        that our past affects us somehow
in the future,
                       that the sky provides a context
                                                      and accounts for
me at 9 years old
                   in a world where everyone
                                           sang along with Perry Como on
the radio
                            to "Papa Loves Mambo"-- #4 on the
Billboard Chart--
                         as if things were ordered for everyone to be
                        It was New Year's day, and again my father
                     off somewhere.
                                      I went along with my mother and
her friend Margo
                                  to Butterfly Beach where they popped a
bottle of Le Domaine,
                                        champagne pink as the sunset
                     and even I
                              was given a paper cup fizzing with fading
light ...
                     and facing west
                                  we celebrated nothing as ponderous
           as some predetermined
                              balance in the universe, a scale model
           metaphysical schematic
                                  that applied locally to us, but rather
          raised our cups
                        to the last sparkling breath of 1956--
        the sea singing,
                      the seraphic salt choir of air echoing in my
unconscious blood
                     and purblind heart.
How to see a pattern now--
                         all the bent corners
                                            and candle ends? Last year
my mother dying
                        in the dreary hospice 20 miles from her house
                     and I left her
                                  for an hour or so each day to feed her
lonesome dog,
                        to take in the mail
                                           when one afternoon a
roadrunner appeared
                      out of thin air,
                                    out of the rocks and cactus, came up
onto the lawn, cocked his head
                                    and looked at me with the glistening
dark star of his eye.
                                      And I went up to him, bequeathing
bits of chicken
                          left from what I'd cooked for the dog,
and the roadrunner
                 soon knew me
                            by my whistle,
                                         by a litany of little clicks I
                      and the sound of the garage door
                                                   ascending, and he
would wait under the oleander
                                    for my daily offering. I'd go
back in and watch
                        for a minute or two from the kitchen window,
                      grateful for such radiant company-- the bright
suggestion of a soul--
                              who then disappeared a day or two before
                   my mother died,
                                 never to be seen again ...
Younger, I might have proclaimed
                              signs and wonders--
                                                the wild green parrots
in the palms,
                    they must be
                                 singing to someone ...?
And all the dazzling mathematics--
                                strings knotted in the invisible
dimensions of the cosmic wind--
                            don't they point to order? But what is
there finally
                        in the starry spectrum to persuade us that the
                takes a particular interest,
                                         such inconclusive prayers as
the heart sends up,
                            so much dust pulled
                                              from the empty pockets of
a faith?
                   Beneath the coral and eucalyptus trees the view is
largely obscured,
                          yet I sit here
                                       under the death sentence of the
               each night holding
                               another breath,
                                             as if the escaping light
                 could be driven back
                                     into the bones, as if air ... 
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Author:Buckley, Christopher (American poet)
Publication:Northwest Review
Article Type:Poem
Date:Nov 1, 2011
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