SATURDAY READING: The Birth, by Sallie Tisdale

October 27, 2012

From Portland Magazine Belle presses her head against the wide bars near where I sit, between a hay bale and a stepladder.  My smell is uncommon here; her questing trunk slithers toward me like a snake sliding out of a basket.  The tip hangs in the air snuffling, a few feet from my lap.  She fixes me with a flecked, amber eye, resting like a stone in a pool of wrinkles, blinking slowly. There is a sign on the wall beside me, in faded yellow letter: DANGER DANGER — the word repeated, to drive the point home. She exhales in a great whoosh at my feet, to let me know my place in things, and the hay on the floor spins away in the wind of her breath. This is not my first time inside the elephant barn at the Oregon Zoo; when I wrote a long [...]

LITTLE FLOWERS: Saint Francis Preaches To The Birds

October 4, 2012

Saint Francis, humble servant of God, a short time after his conversion, having gathered together many companions and received them into the Order, fell into great perplexity and doubt touching what it behooved him to do — whether to be wholly intent on prayer, or sometimes to preach.  And greatly he desired to know the will of God touching these things.  But since the holy humility wherewith he was filled suffered him not to lean overmuch on his own judgment, nor on his own prayers, he thought to seek the divine will through the prayers of others.  Wherefore he called Friar Masseo to him and spoke to him thus, “Go to Sister Clare and bid her from me that she and some of the most spiritual of her companions pray devoutly unto God, [...]

SATURDAY READING: Joyas Voladoras, by Brian Doyle

August 11, 2012

From American Scholar Consider the hummingbird for a long moment.  A hummingbird’s heart beats ten times a second.  A hummingbird’s heart is the size of a pencil point.  A hummingbird’s heart is most of the hummingbird.  Joyas voladoras, flying jewels, the first white explorers in the Americas called them, and the white men had never seen such creatures, for hummingbirds came into the world only in the Americas, only here, nowhere else in the universe, more than three hundred species of them whirring and zooming and nectaring in hummer time zones nine times removed from ours, their hearts hammering faster than we could clearly hear were our elephantine ears pressed to their infinitesimal chests. Each one visits a thousand flowers [...]

POETRY: The Background Beyond the Background by Pattiann Rogers

July 25, 2012

On an autumn afternoon, perhaps selecting apples from a crate or examining pickled beets and onions in a jar, or watching two honeybees at one red clover, we stand unaware before a background of behest and sanctity. Or floating down a river through elm and cottonwood shadows, past sandbar willows and lines of turtles on sunning logs, over underwater thickets, bottom beds of leaf roughage and mud, we are, all the while, made finely distinct upon a more distant background of singularity. Anywhere we turn, this background stays, a domain for mortal and immortal, for crystal grids, for shifting furls of smoke, for structure and fallibility, for each nexus of sword and cross. Atop a barn roof, a glossy green-tailed rooster with auburn feathers [...]

POETRY: Pine Needles Pray by Jim Roberts

January 24, 2012

Pine needles pray, nestling down. Their scent rises. The Forest breathes and exhales prayer. Its wind moves into fissures. Granite takes it in and firmly issues a prayer to a mushroom lifted by its bold touch and sends it down to the juicy soil-cracked seeds whose prayer makes the Forest tingle down into the roots of the Great Oak embracing them all and touching the Great River of Light only those who pray can enter. Join in praying now. Take it in. Ingest the prayers of the land. Unutterable language enters our nose invisible waves open our pores. The senses begin to pray. All that we learned hushed by the longing of the Forest. The prayer of the primal lover rises no longer only [...]