Bury me in a meadow, some untilled waste,
Next to fields of lettuce or off the highway’s verge.
Let it be my stone, engraved in repeated rotation
Through timeless years. Where rabbits start in the grass,
Mice rustle, and slender king snake makes his shy way
In the warm breezeless understory of bush and weed;
Where song sparrow hangs on sideways to dry stalk,
And kestrel teeters, flaps, teeters, on rigid feathers
Spread out in points. Here it is dry and quiet.
And, when the Resurrection comes, let the trumpet be
The brassy, tuneless vibration of the bee, against the clacking
Of locust wings. Let my waking eyes gaze up
On sweet fennel or Queen Anne’s lace in sun.
And, if God should come to look for me, let Him be
The cyclist, pausing to rest. Hands light
On handlebars and saddle, He gazes on this modesty.
And let Him say: This is too good to waste.
This poem was first published in Song of the San Joaquin, vol. 6, no. 1 (winter, 2009).
When I cut onions, I think of you.
How you would neatly, slowly slice
until a treasure of white crescents
lay in a light jumble on the board.
I think of your hands, capable,
but with nails that seemed small
and marked at the cuticle
with white moons.
You used to say I have
beautiful hands. And it’s true.
I’ve lived for decades with each nails’s
separate shape, its own white moon.
When I cut onions, you said
how nicely I did it. How each crescent
widened from sharp points towards the middle.
But I did not believe you.
I set the fishes on the grass in rows, one by one,
Slowly and with respect, as I hope I’ve done
The whole job up till now. A gift, I’d stored them
In a dark, cool shed. I brought them out this sunny day
In bushels I’d filled half-way up so that
I need not heft a load and make this day
Too much like work. It is a feast.
Years ago, I started with the ditch, a starving stream,
Meanly patched with reeds. By inches, I erased
The hard and criss-cross tracks of pickups and machines.
My shovel’s lightly ringing tip gave each grain of dirt
Its due consideration. It trimmed pushed around the edges
Until at last the water tightened, flexed, and stretched,
And swelled into its old-time smooth and living twists.
Moving up the banks, I dug and double dug
And broke and turned compacted dirt. Year by year,
I folded in manure, old leaves, old fruit, and left the rains
And sun to steam and bake. I sat and read and
Breathed. The crows enjoyed free rein to strut. Earth
Ripened into velvet and beckoned back the worms.
I set in oaks, a grove, and when the lustrous acorns dropped,
I sowed. Seeds nestled and lightly scraped my hand
Deep in the basket. My arm swept up in arcs
To shower their dry mist into the air. In time,
White drifting seeds blew in and dropped like birds
Alighting on a pond that paves their road and ost them.
The banks were lush and loud with swaying in the wind.
Yesterday, the yellow dots of goldfinches jumped
From stalk to stalk in wobbling flight. A snake slipped by,
A mirror of their patterns. And, so, today, my hands
Take up the cool and quiet fish and feel their muscled sleepy stir.
Each fish in its own way — diving, leaping, falling — departs
My palms and joins the stream. They shoot away, they dart,
They do slow whips and drift, they butt the surface with open mouths.
This poem was first published in Song of the San Joaquin, vol. 6, no.2 (spring 2009).
Lawrence DiCostanzo came to writing poetry more seriously when he was in his 60s. He had an early intense training in the beauty, flexibility, and power of language because he studied Latin and Greek. Expression was important also in a long professional life as a public servant which consisted in very large part of writing.
Lawrence does not focus on a particular area although he is attracted to nature, family relations, and questions of meaning. In the end, what gets written simply depends on what comes up! Lawrence loves the sonnet form, but blank verse with a rhythm to it is what he mainly writes in. What is important to him is to pull it all together into a whole.
More poetry by Lawrence DiCostanzo here: