viva viriditas, or, poem for epiphany

viva viriditas, or, poem for epiphany

August 31, 2021 4 Comments




(after hildegard and rowen white)

it comes to me in january, 

one morning under the fig tree:

            slanted sunlight warms the pavement,

            sagging laundry line, sharp blue sky

i step into the sleeping garden, where 

            still, amid long stretches of time washed grey with rain, life grows:

            come and see.

witness: veins of bright parsley crawl through wet dirt, 

            leggy kale unfolds tiny crinkled leaves,

            fresh scallion shoots burst their rotted cocoons and stretch 

            upwards, jubilant. witness: worship.


this morning by the fig tree, come and see: 

            a flurry of waxy bay leaves, thrum of wings deep within—

quickening pulse and then, sudden as spirit

            flashing cascade of birdsong, vibration

            faster than i can name, spinning into flight, 

            trilling, gone. 

what is it to see a fig tree in winter? can heaven open here too,

            in quiet deeper than silence,

            the imprint of sound?

do you, like me, slump easy with lassitude, 

            so saturated with the enforced mythos of futile struggle  

            we forget the quiet unfurling all around us, constant, holy?

            perhaps it is i, not the garden, who has been asleep.

one january morning under the fig tree, i stand shining among green life undimmed,

            stretching upwards,









Photo by zixuan Fu on Unsplash

4 Responses

Victoria Leigh Bennett
Victoria Leigh Bennett

September 09, 2021

Though the language of the poem is not as contorted as in Hopkins’s “sprung” poetry, the spacing and scansion of the lines reminds me very much of him, and as the subject is also religious in nature, and religious through natural objects, even more so.

Trish Marston
Trish Marston

September 07, 2021

Beautifully thought provoking.

Cristina Legarda
Cristina Legarda

September 07, 2021

This is absolutely gorgeous. I’ve read it over and over this morning. Totally stunning.

C.L. Fisher
C.L. Fisher

September 03, 2021

This is a beautifully satisfying poem.

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