The Crime of Love

No one is driving the yellow cab that brings the Cat from the turmoil

and racket of the city to the quiet edge of the forest.

She watches the taxi’s taillights and its non-existent driver disappear into a

curtain of fog and rain. The people of the village watch it– and her– as well.

She ignores them but feels Raven watching her, although she does not

see him high above her on his perch at the edge of a thundercloud.

He watches as she hunts for dinner and he thinks about the memorable

meals she has cooked for him, especially his favorite: salamander soup

and moss salad with pine bark croutons, followed by a main course of field mouse pizza and a bottle of Tempranillo from the foothills of the Pyrenees.

Night descends, the rain and fog evaporate, a half-moon rises over forest, fields and rooftops, and a blue glow emanates from the windows of

every house in the village. Raven swoops down from the sky to be

embraced by his lady love, who ties a napkin underneath his chin.

For dessert she serves gelato made from toadstools and then she lets him lead her to their bed of leaves in the highest branches of the tallest oak of the forest.

They have been in love for several months and their fellow creatures of the woodlands have become accustomed to their dancing together in the treetops.

The humans who inhabit the village however, disapprove of interspecies romance and have enacted many laws, prohibitions and commandments.

On Sunday mornings the churches of the village bulge with prayers and hymns to save the souls of the blissful criminals, but in the evening the

villagers turn toward home and lock their doors. High in their oak tree nest the Raven

folds the Cat into his wings and they whisper silly things to each other.

Before they fall into their dreams they thank the gods that the villagers love television more than they hate the love that dares not speak its name.

© 2010 J.M. Keating



The Blessings of Small Voices

In March the

tulips and the daffodils are

fragile little colored bells, so you

must bend your knees down to the dirt

to listen closely when they ring because

their papery petals only sing in voices

soft and light

as blossoms falling.

You hear so

little when you stand above them

looking down, though from your great height

you love the flaxen yellow and the white and

the sight of the green blades that burrow up

through mounds of sodden leaves that

look like sheaves

of rusted metal.

Bend down then

and listen. Crawl up close and simply listen.

In April when the bells have shrunken into little

fists, and petals tumble on the ground like your

lover’s dress and stockings strewn around the bedroom

floor, you might hear the rustle of November

leaves and songs

of snowflakes falling.

© 2004 J.M. Keating

The Seventh Storm of Winter

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here

to bless the falling snow.

Let it bury us and all our cares and pains and bury

every one of our wishes and preoccupations, especially

the ones we think are most important.

Let it, which neither scorns nor loves, but falls

on all our lives with the same indifferent silence,

inter our pasts and bury every one of our dreams as well.

We pray you, blessed snow, to leave bare spots

beneath the apple trees for winter birds to peck for

seeds, but otherwise, please blanket our incessant

chatter beneath the frigid benediction of your

whiteness so we can pull up the covers of our beds

and burrow even deeper into sleep like hibernating bats

and bears and not emerge until the ides of March

and maybe not until the ides of May.

© 2012 J.M. Keating