in search of Hildegard of Bingen. Short listed SWW 2017

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in search of Hildegard of Bingen

I take a train out of Bingen
through the Rhine Valley
on this sweaty summers day
trek up a steep hill
relieved to find an old sign klosterruine
which points to a verdant track
into a cool shady grove

here remnants of the twelfth century monastery
moss-mottled stone walls
mostly buried by vines
and embedded tree roots
is Hildegard’s world

standing in this moment
with the outlines of another world
time is shapeless
the divide of centuries a blur

only my mind’s eye can see
a spirited young woman
flourishing herb gardens

she prepares salves and tonics
attends the sick
listens to the breeze
and finds God in the hills above her

kairos time
for her visions writings mandalas and music
later a powerful feminist voice
against corruption patriarchy and senseless war

the earth is our mother she would sing
revere and care for her
if we exploit and savage her
she will be out off balance
and the price will be high

then silence for nine hundred years
in our time
the scales are tipped loudly out of balance
the all ords and the dow are the measure
a daily intake of massacres crowds our entertainment
soul mutilation makes soldiers unable to cry

I lean against the wall marked Hildegard’s cloister
in the lush shade of an almond tree
hanging fruit voluptuous now
is falling to emptiness
the void
the nothingness
how human to fear the waiting
for fullness to return

scattered around me
are rotting almond fruits
flies enjoying their feast
the decay fodder for the soil

my eyes scan for her presence

a maiden hair fern
grooved into a crumbling niche
catches my eye
delicate and tenacious
I feel a quickening
like a first flutter of new life

too often the fragile the intimate whisper
the lightness of touch
the flicker of a sanctuary lamp
like the breath are portals and easily missed

I ponder the rise and fall of my breathing
listen to the rhythmic heart beat
hear veriditas chants in the crumbling walls

veriditas murmurs hildegard

hildegard is here
I do not flinch i expect her

nothing like the grey statue at the abbey
holding the orb and feather

her presence is intimate
light glows luminous
her arms full of herbs from the garden
and her muddy hand-made sandals
make me laugh