Ears of the Heart
by Robert Cording
St. Benedict said, Listen with the ears of your heart.
And so I try to remember what was once heard
in the practice of the heart’s listening:
the surprise of a robin’s common song
when I was ready to hear it. And wind saying itself
in the tulip leaves outside my childhood window.
So many times I’ve needed to learn again
what I am always forgetting—
that each thing has its own pitch and vibration and rings
with the exactness of a bell.
Like the sounds rain makes so differently
filling a tin cup or waterfalling leaf by leaf through
the understories of a forest.
And there’s my mother’s voice calling
me home for supper and, later, saying goodbye.
When I am dying to the world will the ears of my heart hear—
in a hospital room’s trickle of sad laughter,
in the sitcom leaking down
from the television, in the doctor’s voice calling my name
when no one is sure I am still listening—
the voice of my beloved moving like light
at the beginning of each day,
speaking in words I have heard but never clearly enough
to write down, saying everything I could never say?
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Thanks to Elizabeth Scalia for pointing me to this lovely painting of St Benedict. I had a hunch she’d be able to point me to just the right picture, and she was.
I don’t remember how I stumbled across Robert Cording; but I love his poetry. It is full of these luminous moments, threaded through with faith, and features many birds. I suspect if I’m able to keep up with my poem a day regimen, you’ll be seeing his name pop up here again.
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