“Ad Vitam”

You ask

and I say delicious

(that cell/splitting glory that

unfolds until we expire)

angels on fire

come remind us

that this life

is just a prayer

 

we have been

rendezvousing with the dead

in the small hours

they say death is nothing

but a change of clothes

and setting the stage before

the next act

 

we are corpsing

our way

through a comedy hour

so as not to let on

that we are amused

so as not to expose ourselves

as alive

 

while they climb Jacob’s ladder

we drive along the coast and

make waves with

one hand out the window

pushing through air with an open palm

and it is our prayer

(all this living

is just a prayer)

The First Thought Was “Yes”
 

this business of 
creating worlds

comes naturally to

the child who,

in her closeness

to God,

abandons doubt

and boldly fashions

her reality

 

though every authority

in her life
tells her NO

(her mother,
her father,

her teachers,

and peers)

she disregards her

obligation to comply

and makes airplanes out of paper,

castles out of sand,

and wings out of duct tape

and feathers

 

her dreams materialize

before her eyes
in response to

the organization
of her thoughts

thoughts

the focused collation of desire,

the force that precedes
the birth

and arrival
of matter,

the essence that
breathes life into form,

the source that gives
substance
to all we see—

 

the child knows
in her innocence

that she is not
the first thinker

nor is she the most innovative

or original at that—

 

she knows that

consciousness

gave rise
to genesis

that her origins

are ancient

and her inception

sacred

 

inception—

that moment when
every hidden potential

appeared at once

to the pure and settled mind,

when everything
that

would ultimately manifest

revealed its face as a promise

of what could be—

when Peace Beyond Knowing

was once aroused and
invited to react

 

and even the child knows

that its first thought

was Yes 

“Woman, be another god”

Come in like a fool

and let me dance with you.

I might not kiss you yet;

I may never need to.

Melt life’s ice and remember

the hard heart’s only work

is to throb

in this young universe.

 

I had seen you—

you were with ghosts.

But now this self is waking.

Go from your prison

like those gods from hell sky.

Magic may make you

live after all.

 

(This girl’s spirit is kind, I know.

She is quiet like peace.

Some men like to go fast,

but boy, I want her musically.)

 

Woman, watch what you want.

Need less and live frugally.

Sing. Let music put a stop

to your sordid urges.

Some goddess beneath your skin

is shining.

 

Never compare joy to his touch.

Trust that time lifts another

beside you.

Thousands will give their

hearts away

wishing you were theirs.

 

(Look: this life is full.

She should want a true thing.

She should want them all.)

 

Woman, be another god.

Look out on we, the tiny.

Smile at your work,

make your spirit strong, and

come make it lively.

Here, the faithful must

receive time:

 

(We who would be loving.)

 

Some rhythm haunts this day.

This wild cup bleeds over

and you look good in champagne.

Slowly smoke the will of

sacred desiring;

the secret is never needing.

Dance with a child, sister.

We open our hearts to breathe.

 

(We wake universes

and God is blushing.)

© 2017, Julie Henderson

This collection of short poems was composed between 2016-2017 within the University of San Francisco’s Writing MFA program in Poetry.

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