August

Today at Golden Hour
I stared straight into the Sun
orange like henna in white hair

The cataract of August humidity
across its eye, I turned away quickly
A warning whispered in my ear

“Look and you will die.”
But false hope lies
in careless implication

Look or not,
the astral face of God
will always overpower

Look or not,
you will still
be gone.

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Particle

Relics can be
Bones that held
Together, exoskeleton:

A camera initiated
In the summer
of hate

A serving tray bought
In Town – You
visited with
Your daughter

The thermos you drank
Tea in, with ritual
like it was the Body
of Christ, containing
wine, mixed with
Your blood

Relics can be
old CD towers, particle
Board book
Cases – Glassware
Wrapped in newspapers
Dating 1983

Let me press
bone against Living
Palm, fleshiness
will you speak
Again
Will you?
Tell me
Why You Had to
Leave.

Midnight Calls

My body is fragile
Crack me open
at the seam in my
Ribcage, like
a damp wafer – watch
the strawberry blood
cake in exposed air.

How many midnight calls,
and dinnertime
Interruptions
can a heart
take before the valves
wear thin
And the tell tale tingle
moves up my arm?

Doctor’s orders:
I can’t lift
this weight
Give me something lighter.
Second thought:
Don’t give me anything at all.

“Be Brave”

Don’t tell me
to Be Brave,
again,
as if courage
is instinct for
half of us and
Learned Behavior
for XX chromosomes
alone. As if
my going
out is not its own
defiant act

And my speaking:
Bold, Direct
is not akin
to wielding
the sword.

Don’t tell me
Courage is:
holding my tongue
and the serving tray
at a 3rd wave
Dinner Party
thrown for strangers with
pasted on grins

I am no one’s
Darling
I am already
Strong

everyone who searches

And everyone who searches
finds – maybe not
the missing button, maybe
an old note, yellowed photo
with a missing corner.

And you realize
what you find is
good enough,
or better

And the cardigan can
do without mending –
its gapping filled
for now with a memory
of summertime,
or last year’s loss
– you never lost at all.

It was hiding under the bed,
stirred awake,
an answer. The question
never mattered.

———

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” – Rilke

Like Paul, Like Kelly

Like Saul, Kelly Gissendaner plotted to kill the innocent. Like Saul, she was an enemy of the righteous.

Like Paul, Christ spoke life into her and, because of her, many were saved. Like Paul, she was killed by the state.

May we be like Paul, and like Kelly, and remember where we came from and where Christ brought us. May we sing Amazing Grace in our final moments. May we foster mercy in our hearts against reason and wage love against the pain.

“…and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, ‘He is the Son of God.’ All who heard him were amazed and said, ‘Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem among those who invoked this name? And has he not come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?’ Saul became increasingly more powerful and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Messiah.” (Acts 9:20-22)

frost bitten

You’ll be kind and
never lose your temper
and no one will misunderstand
your jokes. You’ll

wake up early and listen
to the mourning dove
sing     dooo
dooo               do-do-do
low-high calling
the new day good.

You’ll always have spare
change for the panhandler
at his median post. You’ll be

better.
You’re just a little bit good
for now.

But the You that matters
is the you that exists.

And she hits snooze and grumbles
through morning coffee, forgets
to take out the trash.

She whines and her
words don’t always
pour over wounds like soothing
balm. Sometimes,
she lets wounds fester.

But at least she exists, here,
now, placed for a season,
planted and occasionally watered.

You’re aloe with frost
bitten tips, but
you’re alive, and can still give
of your rich pulp.

Remember this,
God uses the You you are.

on suffering

If you’re trying to resolve the problem of suffering and wrap it up in a neat little package, you’ll only be disappointed by Christianity.

Christianity doesn’t answer that question. It dwells in the suffering. It acknowledges it, laments it, and looks for ways to reduce it, but it doesn’t tell you why.

A friend recently said that what strikes him most about Christianity is the image of the Suffering Christ. When tragedy strikes, Christ suffers. He dies again and again. Immeasurably deep empathy for the human condition.

Christianity doesn’t answer the why; it asks us to turn from our inward need to understand and look out to help alleviate suffering in the world. I can sit here and shout “Why?!” or I can go out and do something to end it, even while I knowing it will not end.

Christianity asks me to sit with the questions, but not alone. I am increasingly convinced that Christianity is a communal religion; it must be done with others; we acknowledge what we do not know, together.

Nothing can be wrapped up in a neat little package.