Beautiful Reckoning

     for Maggie who is learning

Saint James says not to be as one
who looks into a mirror
and then forgets his face,

but he was never seventeen, a girl in love
who for the first time finds herself reflected
as a word worth speaking.

She will forget a thousand times
just to have the one who spoke the word
repeat it like a pulse.

She will feel a debt:
he has settled an account,
some space within her calculated

as if she were a buried pearl.
She will feel he’s bought this worthless land
to dig and dig for her,

one hundred craters in the earth,
a crazy man by moonlight
with faith in treasure no one else believes.

Later, she will see he did not invent her.
At best, he was a skilled translator
of a language she had yet to learn she was.

In the beginning was the Word.
In the beginning was the girl
who could not say herself.

In the end, she will stand, bone white,
and smash the rock that held the secret name
because it is written, now,
in a place more permanent than stone.