A Short Testament

Whatever harm I may have done 
In all my life in all your wide creation creation
If I cannot repair it 
I beg you to repair it, 

And then there are all the wounded 
The poor the deaf the lonely and the old
Whom I have roughly dismissed 
As if I were not one of them. 
Where I have wronged them by it 
And cannot make amends 
I ask you 
To comfort them to overflowing,

And where there are lives I may have withered around me,
Or lives of strangers far or near 
That I've destroyed in blind complicity, 
And if I cannot find them 
Or have no way to serve them,

Remember them. I beg you to remember them

When winter is over 
And all your unimaginable promises
Burst into song on death's bare branches.

More by Anne Porter

Winter Twilight

On a clear winter's evening
The crescent moon 

And the round squirrels' nest
In the bare oak 

Are equal planets.

A List of Praises

Give praise with psalms that tell the trees to sing,
Give praise with Gospel choirs in storefront churches,
Mad with the joy of the Sabbath, 
Give praise with the babble of infants, who wake with the sun,
Give praise with children chanting their skip-rope rhymes, 
A poetry not in books, a vagrant mischievous poetry 
living wild on the Streets through generations of children.

Give praise with the sound of the milk-train far away 
With its mutter of wheels and long-drawn-out sweet whistle
As it speeds through the fields of sleep at three in the morning,
Give praise with the immense and peaceful sigh
Of the wind in the pinewoods, 
At night give praise with starry silences. 

Give praise with the skirling of seagulls 
And the rattle and flap of sails 
And gongs of buoys rocked by the sea-swell
Out in the shipping-lanes beyond the harbor. 
Give praise with the humpback whales, 
Huge in the ocean they sing to one another.
 
Give praise with the rasp and sizzle of crickets, katydids and cicadas, 
Give praise with hum of bees, 
Give praise with the little peepers who live near water.
When they fill the marsh with a shimmer of bell-like cries
We know that the winter is over. 

Give praise with mockingbirds, day's nightingales.
Hour by hour they sing in the crepe myrtle 
And glossy tulip trees
On quiet side streets in southern towns.
 
Give praise with the rippling speech
Of the eider-duck and her ducklings
As they paddle their way downstream
In the red-gold morning 
On Restiguche, their cold river,
Salmon river, 
Wilderness river. 

Give praise with the whitethroat sparrow.
Far, far from the cities, 
Far even from the towns, 
With piercing innocence 
He sings in the spruce-tree tops,
Always four notes 
And four notes only. 

Give praise with water, 
With storms of rain and thunder 
And the small rains that sparkle as they dry,
And the faint floating ocean roar 
That fills the seaside villages, 
And the clear brooks that travel down the mountains 

And with this poem, a leaf on the vast flood,
And with the angels in that other country.

Noel

When snow is shaken
From the balsam trees
And they're cut down 
And brought into our houses 

When clustered sparks 
Of many-colored fire
Appear at night 
In ordinary windows 

We hear and sing
The customary carols 

They bring us ragged miracles
And hay and candles 
And flowering weeds of poetry
That are loved all the more
Because they are so common 

But there are carols
That carry phrases 
Of the haunting music
Of the other world 
A music wild and dangerous
As a prophet's message 

Or the fresh truth of children
Who though they come to us
From our own bodies 
Are altogether new
With their small limbs
And birdlike voices 

They look at us
With their clear eyes 
And ask the piercing questions 
God alone can answer.