Window Psalm

Leaf leaves the mother tree in its falling flight,
descends to die in the earth at her feet.
Leaf becomes soil, and soil becomes womb;
leave the childbearing to winter’s chill and
tales of a babe born and laid in a manger;

Tree becomes testament, and book is bound,
its reflection white and glassy in the store window.
Read the window, tell the tree to tell her tale
in textbook and tome, story and poem,
or Scripture born on a pale, thin skin;

Tomes of tombstones, one errant in the reflection
while blurred winter wind and sky imprint onto the glass.
Soil becomes tomb as another year goes to sleep,
bedded down beneath snow, sidewalk, and an aging sun
while rainbow lights color each cornflower Yule twilight;

Brownstones rise from the earth with aplomb
while Christmas bells chime and call choruses forth.
The choirs, the organs, and the digitally made song
cannot reach the man, distant, imprinted in the window –
distant and singular in this season of joy;

O glass, what more will you impart
in this season of both ashen day and resplendent night?
Birth and death pass each other with wary, cautious eyes,
unsure of the true ruler of these days –
is it the cold claiming our breath or the warmth of our hearts?

Written 12/13/11
© 2011 Nicole Nicholson. All Rights Reserved.
This poem was written for this week’s We Write Poems Prompt. My poem ended up being a psalm based on how the images in the picture called out to me and the interplay between them — and the words associated with them.

“Selah” is a word used rather frequently in the psalms of the Torah/the Old Testament of Bible. According to Wikipedia, it is “a difficult concept to translate”; it might be a liturgical instruction or indicate an instrumental break. Anglican clergyman and Biblical scholar E.W. Bullinger believed that it was a conjunction between two verses of a psalm, possibly to illustrate a contrast or a cause-and-effect relationship. The suggested meaning that caught my eye the most — and is how the term is intended to be used in this poem — is “pause, and think of that”, which is how the term is translated in the Amplified Bible.


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About ravenswingpoetry

I am a 38 year old writer from Columbus, OH and the creator of Raven's Wing Poetry. I am a poet, seeker, fellow traveler, and autistic.
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12 Responses to Window Psalm

  1. That is an interesting take – yes, it is the Christmas season and the metaphor works!.

    Love the line “Birth & death pass each other with wary, causous eyes”

  2. vivinfrance says:

    This is lovely. Your explanation of the word selah justifies absolutely its use between each stanza – it allows a re-read, a pause for consideration, appreciation.

  3. Nicky, you certainly put your spiritual side into this poem and you did accomplish the Psalmist style. A hard effort won. I have often thought that ‘selah’ might have a cousin in the Arabic ‘inshala’, but then their meaning carries a difference. I believe, not that dialectically opposed. Now there’s an discussion waiting to happen. Good stuff Columbus girl, keep it up.

  4. pamelasayers says:

    Gorgeous writing, Nicole. Each stanza is perfect with the refrain of “selah”. Thanks for the process notes as well.


  5. wayne says:

    I like your take on this…..nicely done and thanks for sharing your words

  6. margo roby says:

    Quite something, Nicole. More than a cause and effect or conjunction; a closer quality, as each verse rises from the previous and all fit together as a whole [which I realise sounds like cause and effect and conjunction, but I maintain that your structure is more integral to your content]. Powerful imagery. I shall come back to reread this.


  7. Wiki’d “selah”… as a linguist-poet, I am constantly fascinated by lost and layered meanings of words from other languages. So glad you included this! And for the poem itself, love the way that connection builds on connection which builds on connection, but always with the refrain to draw us back into balance. Great images and thoughts crooking fingers in this.

    But I still say it looks like Admiral Ackbar. 😉

  8. neil reid says:

    Yep, a lovely poem Nicole! And that slight invocation, yes, (surprising me) did add so much to the process of reading this poem. Small things do make difference! In whole, felt like the carpenter’s hammer building this poem stick by stick, each well fit by good craftsmanship. Pleasing on the ear to read as well Nicole.

    I gotta come read this again, yes certainly. Thank you.


  9. MiskMask says:

    A wonderful use of the word selah. Touching and colourful in its depth of meaning.

  10. Hello All:

    Thank you for the kind compliments.

    I had always been fascinated with the word “selah” and its appearance in the Psalms since I was a teenager…I used to read the Bible (sometimes out of fascination, sometimes out of boredom) and I would be struck by the lyrical quality of the psalms. The KJV leaves “selah” untranslated, but now finding out what possible concepts or ideas existed behind the term is very fascinating. I wanted the reader to stop and think about what he or she has just read…not only that, the physical structure on the page demands a bit of a pause before going on.

    Again, thank you all. I look forward to playing next week. 🙂


  11. nan says:

    This is gorgeous. The cadence of the psalm, the deep, cyclical, flow of the stanzas — separated with selah. . . So.very.nice.

  12. Pingback: How to Dream « Raven's Wing Poetry

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