Bio Note: Once upon a time, my wife and I co-hosted a weekly radio program in Phoenix on music from medieval through baroque periods. My interest in the art and personalities of the Middle Ages is reflected in these poems. Relating more to issues of contemporary life, my most recent book is Speech Scroll, published by Cholla Needles.
A Medieval Physician Defines Spirit
Spirit is issued in the liver where heat intensifies to strike lightning through the veins where the flash becomes virtue and flows to every limb. It soaks the chambers in the brain, bubbles through dens in the heart and carries reason to its home in the brow. Logic is a burn mark left by the spirit speeding between walls in the skull, while memory is heat subsiding and turning into lichen along the mind’s cool slopes.
A Purple Vision of the Virgin
On the windswept rise where Hildegard watches dawn an adder slips beside her like Adam’s melting rib. She strokes then gives it back to the world beneath the soil. The sky is purple as the early gale leaps over hills and grips the limbs of a tree whose leaves ring against each other, sparkling in the velvet light while all the Earth is howling. From the tree, Hildegard hears a voice. When bark falls away, the Virgin steps forward and smiles as she wipes a kiss of poison from her mouth.
Hildegard Receives a Messenger
An Italian messenger has crossed the Alps carrying a scroll of news from all the convents in the order. Hildegard thinks his home is close to the end of all mountains where the messenger can see almost to the lowest rung of Heaven. This world curls up at its edges, holding seas back from infinity, she claims, and we float in a sphere we cannot see. The sphere in turn is floating in an oval space which fits inside another, still another layer away from the stars. This is a skin of fire turning blue. As the messenger reads a list of the departed, Hildegard imagines their journeys; their bodies growing light as the spirit steps out of them to climb invisible ladders from universe to universe.
©2020 David Chorlton
Editor's Note: If this poem(s) moves you please consider writing to the author (email address above) to tell her or him. You might say what it is about the poem that moves you. Writing to the author is what builds the community at Verse Virtual. It is very important. -JL