I’ve heard that holy madness is a stateGeorge Garrett (d. 2008), former poet laureate of Virginia
not to be trifled with, not to be taken
lightly by jest or vow, by lover’s token
or any green wreath for a public place. Flash
in the eyes of madmen precious fountains,
whose flesh is wholly thirst, insatiate.
I see this graceful bird begin to wheel,
glide in God’s fingerprint, a whorl
of night, in light a thing burnt black,
unhurried. Somewhere something on its back
has caught his eye. Wide-winged he descends
like angels to the business of this world.
I’ve heard that saintly hermits, frail, obscene
in rags, sack-fleshed, eyes like jewels, kneel
in dry sand among the tortured mountains, feel
at last the tumult of their prayers take shape,
take wings, assume the brutal rush of grace.
This bird comes then and picks those thin bones clean.