Each nation has a god
that sums its thought
that whispers in its ear
for good or ill
and gives it force of will
for right or wrong.
And once I saw afar,
beneath a desert star,
the god of our America;
his throated song
rang out long,
his amber eyes
looked up to desert skies
in mournful dream.
Coyote is his name;
his pad is soft.
His form shirks the same:
a Trickster god is he,
never what he seems,
untrustworthy but free;
and in his eyes
the spark of new surprise
St. Joseph, build now to the sky
an unnailed staircase spiralled round
of prayers interlocked that cry,
of psalms whose echoes never die,
but through angelic halls resound.
We cannot build; our lilied hands
are scratched by boards so roughly hewn,
and nails we use, and iron bands,
or else our words will not keep tune.
No bridges built up to the height,
but only piecemeal stairways, rise;
but, pontifex, you fair and light,
with grace of balance, will build aright,
of cross-like truths, and never lies.
So take our prayers, each heartlike beat,
and raise them up to heaven's choir
to be a stair for stumbling feet,
a pathway fit for heart's desire!