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Teresian Wells: Grief and Insurrection

January 20, 2012

by Kate Falvey

Right now, O raging Carmelite, I have
an interior shack some middle where
outposted in primeval pine and poplar.

And though I am properly joyful when
the sun slants its sunny resurrection,
I am irked, confessedly, with dust and

duty. A broom in a corner, benign,
no, positively simpering: task, task,
and splendid beatitudes, balled and caked,

creep mossily through the planks, waiting for
their thanks. A chunky mug and spoon need holy
rinsing, my single sheet arrests me with

its bid to air the bedding and the tracks
of sylvan creatures, snuffling abrasively
into my lonely stash of winter grain,

eek a cranky knee-jerk pity, half-feigned
and insufficient, charity annoyed
into remembrance of resilience, though

my predilection would be not to share.
I am aware that meanness will not do.
A chastening fling of my breakfast to

the starving starlings and the porcupines
whets my appetite for mercy and I
feast again on humble pie and crow. So

braced, robustly stuffed with an airy fibrous
faith, I chant a favorite paternostic
plea for a modicum of sense and grace.

And I fully expect — though faith is just
a filler and my contrition grumbling
and suspect — consolation, radical

redress, emolument, direction,
sympathy, a link, the wise old consort
of my will to consecrate my listless

blood and rouse me to ascendancy or
leastways to a fair goodwill, unornery
composure and exuberant completion.

Work waits neutrally and patiently but
I cannot endure it. Today, I swear,
that gruff responsibility and service —

peeling the pudgy cobwebs from the jambs,
rejoicing in the loosening of grimy
nimbus from sainted sill, sorrowing,

but scrubbing all the while with fearful gusto —
is not the thing, is not enough to tide
me into suppliance again. I’ve had it

with belief in lowly ritual, loaves
bloating with my need to savor more than
commonplace distentions, spills and simple

clutter confiding in the pressure of
my rags and busy hands, that, indeed, god’s
face is in the stupid trusty suds, that

dimensional, satisfying light wells
regally in the quiet spaces made
by all this mortifying movement, that

the business of life pulses in thrifty
obligation to retain itself, unwasting,
in exchange for nothing, not even a

blasted, circumambient, or willy nilly
faith. Not even for a failure to receive
a sacred mop and bucket when they’re lent.

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Kate Falvey’s work has appeared in a variety of print and online journals. She’s on the editorial board of the Bellevue Literary Review and is editor-in-chief of 2 Bridges Review, a new magazine published through City Tech/CUNY where she teaches.

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