Sunday Mornings


I’ve never found another name for Heaven

except heaven-here—this walk around the block—

our meeting-place-between we live our lives,

terra infirma, the green planet, my summer morning

New Orleans awakens today, just for me.


Little gods—the sun caught on a leaf,

the iridescence shimmering its gold,

the magnolia’s fallen instant in my hand

as sun encases both of us, seconds—

all documentary of the eternal.


Citizen, I wanted you to know

theologies, but I have lost my way

in stars again, come down as fallen leaves,

two, three, the ground churning with four, five, six,

these tiniest of gods I name, re-name


by close inspection, my nose to the dirt—

aphid, dung beetle, sprung rhythm of the bees.

their countless resurrection, deaths, rebirths.



I Say

it’s there. I’m walking around the block now.

Gold in the upper branches of the trees,

of course, but wilder, richer inside stars

the sidewalk opens as I lift my feet,


then set them down on hues no one has seen

except the ant, the grub, the angleworm.

They have no need for mirrors in their dark—

they know themselves by fastenings they displace—


as I do, every minute I’m awake,

even in these lines, given by them to me.

They take their reassurance from the ground

I crave in others, looking in their eyes.


I see you reading this. We’re both alive.

Peter Cooley is Professor Emeritus of English and Director of Creative Writing at Tulane University where he taught from 1975 to 2018. His eleventh book of poetry, The One Certain Thing, was published by Carnegie Mellon in February. He is poetry editor of Christianity and Literature and was Louisiana Poet Laureate from 2015 to 2017.

Also by this author
© 2024 Commonweal Magazine. All rights reserved. Design by Point Five. Site by Deck Fifty.