Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Summer Altar


Puja

Clear the brush
that someone has laid atop this small ruin,
and from its lower chamber.
Remove the loose
bricks that have collapsed
from the upper platform
into the recess below, where the detritus
has composted into rich
humus, a home
to sowbugs and earthworms.
Relocate among tendrils at the garden’s edge
these creatures and the soil
in which they live and move.
Sweep it clean, before
you set a purifying fire in the chamber.

You do not know why
you are doing this. It’s not a rite
from any tradition in which you were reared. Perhaps
it’s your own muddled amalgam
of half-remembered accounts
of other cultures’ encounters with the Holy.
The humus in its fecundity is sacred,
the worms and arthropods that have burrowed into the darkness are sacred.
The fire merely prepares the house for another face of God.

It doesn’t matter
that this ruined altar began
as an abandoned barbecue behind your summer house,
unused at least these seven or eight years.
It is what your imagination
longs for it to be.
It is dark, autochthonous; it is open to the sun.
It will receive
the objects you declare holy.
It will sanctify
the objects you bring to it.
Prepare it for the summer solstice
some two weeks from now.
Tell no one who will scoff.
The sight of it will speak for itself.
Trust the god who leads you blindfolded
into the miracle of the ordinary.

Copyright David Townsend 2010. All rights reserved.

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