Poetry by Leiah Bowden


Lamp of Peace

The Lamp of Peace is our banner,
our tent we open to all.
The Lamp of Peace is the dream we hold aloft,
The lamp that burns in our tent
and in our hearts.
We hold our lamp before us
When we pray
and prayer is everywhere,
in our cells and on our path.
We hold our lamp up high so we can see
the way of peace.
We hold our lamp to the world
to share our way of peace,
the beat of our hearts.

(10/27/18, the day of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting.)

Jasmine after the Hour of the Wolf

(with apologies to Wolf and gratitude to Edna St. Vincent Millay)

Still in my early morning fog, I open the garden door and
Suddenly I am embraced.
Warm jasmine breath from the garden hedge  
Rushes in like a toddler and
 Lifts the caul of worry,
Legacy of the strangling dawn alarm of whatifs and dontforgets

And hallelujah, I am sunshine
I am confident gratitude
I am summerday plans in full bloom.

The power of that predawn wolfscent is not
The rock on the heart or the gutclench of fear.
It is the notion that nothing will improve,
 the pressingin of everything we know
so we believe that time has run out
and that our limits define us.

“And lo!...
“Infinity pressed down upon the finite Me.”

In the daily headlines and tweets and facebook posts
the hour of the wolf expands its reach and contracts our hearts.
We sign that contract every time we swallow bad news,
 murky medicine that kills hope and we might as well admit
our new address is the predawn notion that nothing will improve,
 the pressingin of everything we know,
the convictionthat time has run out
and that our limits define us.

Do not ask me how they survive, whose waking hours ram horror
And pain into their eyes and ears and down their tortured throats.
I am a coddled princess.

And because I can, I hold the duty of optimism,
A bannerman for the lightbringers.
I know how joy can be unfolded,
how the quickening pulse of coming good throbs at the horizon,
and how to surf right into that rising sun.

Hence the early morning prayer at dawning consciousness:
Thank you, Eternal Source, for my life.
MY life, the life I was born to live and which I can protect
By staying alert to when to say yes and when to turn
Away from what is not mine to carry.

Hence the welcoming of the Sabbath Bride,
Sacred heart of the divine,
not LIKE clockwork
But before there was ever notion of time.
Our treasure, the scent of the perfumed garden
Whose only gate is the willingness to open the heart at this very moment,
As the summer sun whispers, “I’ll be back. I promise.”