I do not know that “all things will be well”

Three poems by Mary-Patrice Woehling

The Abandoned Garden

  • The grass has grown so long it’s gone to seed.
  • Azaleas blossom in the untamed hedge.
  • The side lawn is a wilderness of weeds,
  • And ivy tumbles in the flower beds.
  • They used to keep the garden manicured —
  • Well, not quite that, but pretty, trim and neat,
  • All mowed and clipped, composted and manured;
  • Now dandelions burst beneath my feet.
  • The gardeners are in their grave, but here
  • Their garden riots, thrives, still clocked by time,
  • And peonies like pyrotechnic spheres
  • Explode in ruffled flush, their blush sublime.
  • We are responsible for what we sow:
  • Though we are harvested, our gardens grow.

The Lost Vermeer

  • I fell asleep inside a lost Vermeer
  • But was awakened by the gentle light
  • That washed the chamber windows to my right
  • Caressing, polishing the dull veneer.
  • A melody fell lightly on my ear;
  • A virginal was deftly, softly played
  • By a young girl, perhaps a lady’s maid
  • Who hoped to tantalize a chevalier.
  • And yet, she was no lady’s maid. She wore
  • Blue silk and tawny velvet trimmed with fur.
  • Was this a genre painting of a whore?
  • A merchant’s wife? I could not figure her.
  • I tried to ask, and lightly touched her cloak;
  • I tumbled from the canvas as I woke.

Well

  • I do not know that “all things will be well”
  • As Julian of Norwich once proclaimed.
  • That is a thing the end of time will tell.
  • I tell myself that I must always “dwell
  • In possibility” though I am pained.
  • Did Dickinson know “all things will be well”?
  • Angelic rumors may one day dispel
  • The hurt, the worry. (God, I am so drained.)
  • That is a thing the end of time will tell.
  • Is it required that we trudge through hell
  • Emotionally, physically maimed?
  • I do not know that “all things will be well.”
  • When all is done and I am but a shell,
  • Will my too silent fury then be tamed?
  • That is a thing the end of time will tell.
  • My axis would not shift, nor I rebel
  • If galaxies convulsed, but you remained.
  • I do not know that “all things will be well”;
  • That is a thing the end of time will tell.

Mary-Patrice Woehling has been published in America and First Things and garnered honors as a finalist in poetry competitions in Scotland, England, and the United States. She has a Ph.D. in English and teaches at the Mary Louis Academy in Jamaica Estates, New York. Unpublished until now, “The Abandoned Garden” won the Anna and John Kysilko Memorial Award, World Order of Narrative Poets, in 2005.

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