Monday, May 21, 2018

Song of Scaffolding

Fold the creamy linens,
like bread dough on the countertop,
kiss the wooden altar,
where I have left my heart.

You have held a life here,
on brown-paper-glass floor,
through phone calls with Balthasar,
rendezvous on tear-streaked mornings,
guilty Christmas wreath-packings.

Women meet and pray here
in the hush before the day springs,
in the quiet as night stills
to a heart-beat halt.

Your arms, spread wider than the heavens,
scatter old wounds to crumble
in condemned chapels.
With such a gracious host,
scarred hearts and wounded hands,
can welcome new loves and guests
with the enthusiasm of Elizabeths.

I hold your hand in mass,
and feel your body,
rooted to the hardwood floor,
grow tall and strong next to me.
A tree who I can grow with,
lean on, and find shade in,
here in this chapel of visitation.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

bike lane resurrection

He vanishes like ascension,
leaving into Resurrection,
like clouds melt into air.
Craning my neck
like men of Galilee,
I see just one footprint—
not Christ
or the prophet like Mohammed's—
just the fossil negative
of a boyish black Nike
stamped upon not
only my arms
which gesticulate in imitation,
my tongue,
who swirls new patois like pinot noir,
but burned into the hardest core of me,
the deepest space where binding,
keeping covenant
(with china cabinets and breakfast dates)
take place—
the deepest heart of me
where a new face lives:
intimately me, and I, his.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

it's over now

and I hoped that I would have been smarter,
more diligent,
and sleep enough to be virtuous
with ease.

I would have hoped papers to have been written
with strong theses
impeccable internal coherency,
logical argument,
and inner necessity.

I would have imagined that I could
keep my room tidy,
dishes washed,
and my notes neat.

Laundry lives mostly draped on drawers,
couches (!), the table in my bathroom,
and my bed.

In the thick of things,
it’s easy to let things slide
like manicures,
folding laundry
and phone calls longer than 10 minutes.

I could not have ever have imagined that I would have felt
this joy—
deeper than rusting cars,
or missing fillings,
or the vulnerability of uncertainty—
a joy sated not with the moment,
but in eternity.

Friday, May 4, 2018

to establish ties

There’s a rupture in the Trinity—
the Father sees a non-kenotic rift develop,
a new and tragic distance,
Son and Spirit, and his self.
Some angst has
hampered perichoretic harmony,
disrupted trusted denouements
of their divine comedy.

Spirit, prone to blowing where he will,
is hard to pin down.
His wings so used to flying,
hold in them—he thinks—a dictum,
a haunting kind of fate,
to wit:
that he will be perpetually a-gust,
blown about by gales
and never have a place to rest.

Father’s heart aches for Spirit
who holds (and is) his heart.
He watches Freedom himself run its course
whose current bend, it seems,
leads far from him.

How very odd it is, he thinks,
sipping coffee on a windy night alone,
to be a principle of unity,
pure being willed into ever-existence
by the absolute freedom of love,
and wholly at the mercy 
of another.

It’s the sort of joke no one could imagine,
yet the sort of one I am.

He laughs.
But his heart beats irregularly.

Even the Son images dimly.
How lonely a number—two.

The Father's cup pauses,
removed before it hits his lips—
Am I at fault for Freedom's flight?
Son is broadly advertised as
"only-begotten," "most-beloved," and 
"in whom I am well-pleased,"
but in the thick of messianic glory,
did I neglect to tell you that I love you?

Son sends his angels to woo
his sweet, shy Spirit back again.
They sing, for their own maker,
a psalm straight from the lips of God:

"Ah, Spirit, you are wrong:
It’s the foxes of the field,
and Son who have nowhere to lay their heads.
You are not a tame God,
but a taming one.

The clay of cosmos, wholly preoccupied in their
unholy toy shops,
find themselves needed and necessary
for nothing but to play pretend.
But you are responsible for more.

Come at 3 or 4, or whatever hour
the hunters dance with women
and chickens free for snatching have grown scarce.
My heart is ready, oh Spirit,
my heart is always ready
to greet you with the proper
and truly humble rites.

So come rest your head on the bosom of my love—
you may flee as your Spirit moves you,
but you cannot escape the place where you belong—
where what is invisible to so many callous eyes
is found essential, unsubstitutable,
and seen."

Thursday, May 3, 2018

we are underwater

The other day, we walked into my room, turned into devastation.
Rain had soaked my chestnut floors and covered my bible and Pablo Neruda driftwood poem in water.

We clean it up with dish towels and I refrain from tears to keep the flood from multiplying. We close the windows. I keep them open, because I like to remember that I am part of what's outside, and the membrane of what's between us is permeable.

I dream at precisely midnight that the rain came through my windows again, all over a room which was bare, the water droplets speckled over the stripped wood floor. The man said to me: This is what comes of putting your books on windowsills. You need to keep them in bookshelves. 

What was odd was that it hadn’t even occurred to me that the issue was in part the fact that I do not keep those books away on shelves. Is that where books belong?

He seemed quite sure they did.
Really? I thought.
All of them?

I didn't feel a failure, the way dentists make you feel about your teeth when you present them with your cavity-striken molars. Rather, I felt a new way of seeing.

Perhaps the way to keep books from getting wet when rain blows through the windows horizontally is to keep them on book shelves, perpetually.

On book shelves, far from windows, they will transpire lives of safety. They will be protected from the elements and preserved for progeny to come. If I am conscientious enough, they will last 500 years and end up in a bon mot enthusiast's living room in Milwaukee to round out his literary reliquary.

But books are made for living. They are not trophies to stock shelves and collect the dust which would otherwise scatter, but companions to steer you through rough seas.

I will risk the rain-soaked page to keep them at my fingertips, lining the corners of my living room, and rounding out what of life can be gleaned from rain, swamped rugs gently laid to dry in kitchens, and literary keys.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

abound in the midst of oceans

Olympia is sobbing on the front porch
of the townhouse—
it’s been too long since she’s heard
from her favorite Golden Mouth.
She’s looking for the story
which will make sense of her soul—
a tale she’ll tell herself at bedtime,
a lullaby to spell herself from broken
into whole.

A new John sits across her in the sunlight,
witnessing her face crumple into chaos:
pain stinging from the living loss of logos
adrift without a principle to organize or rudder—
Olympia’s at sea in her own story.
Her suffering’s for naught if there’s no place it can take her.

John wrote her in her letter:
I’ll compose another melody,
a new song which can make you,
angelic harmonies to spur your
springtime purge of dust from dark
winter house-holds of your heart.

But the melody is flat,
the golden is corrupted,
stale Eucharists are offered—
we eat agape meals of mold,
hard leaven of sweet philia
gone cold.

New John watches with such love,
hears the discord without alarm.
His eyes read her heaving shoulders,
speak to gild a silver sob:
can you not see, Olympia?
Christ is in your scandal,
bringing meaning to what’s fractured
in your life, through his own.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

psalm 2018

Sometimes it is helpful, as I'm sure the psalmist would agree, to imagine one's divine interlocutor as one's middle school frenemy. You are at a slumber party at your mutual friend's house, and ugh why did she show up? What was going to be a calm evening of Hayley Mills movies, giggling in tree houses at 3am, and eating hedonist atheistic confections like cookie dough brownies and Karo-syrup-slathered kettle corn which is our 7th grade crack turns into all-night status jockeying and a grit-tooth-awful game of truth or dare.

Truth or dare plays upon our deepest fears—we inherently sense the relational danger in self-revelation, in confessing inner truths—especially in middle school. This game reinforces all of our qualms about truth-telling. The strongest among us are those unafraid to take the escalating dares. The strongest among us never have to reveal what is inside of them, in fact they prove their strength by never having to. The weak and afraid reveal what's inside of them.

When your middle school frenemy shows up at the slumber party, no effing way are you opting for the "truth." You'll take the dare, no matter what. Backing down is not an option. Not here, in your friend's basement at 4am. Here is not the time for that. In the witching hours of the night, wired on crack kettle corn and unspeakably vast amounts of chocolate—which have somehow been absorbed by your youthful metabolism—you are going to prove you are invincible, no matter what the dare.

God is like this.

God lobs all sorts of dares at you. You're just minding your own business, trying to learn Arabic, trying to write your papers and read your books and live a life of mild-to-little discomfort, in which you can operate in a mediocre, basic charity with ease.

And then God shows up to the party after supper (who invited them, you groan inside). And you're in for a rough night. Because God, like the best of frenemies, complicates things. I just want a simple day, full of simple challenges, little, tiny, simple mysteries. Please no thick, dense interactions in hallways, no desires twisting my heart into gymnast-figures. Please no people being hurt I have to advocate for, no anger at the ignorance of privilege spouting off next to me in class, no self-examination of my own failure. Why test me? Just let me operate in my white-washed version of holiness, please and thank you. Can't I just stay me-shaped? I'm not sure I'm into this whole being remade-in-the-image-of-Christ thing, anyway.

But you don't get to opt out of truth or dare. Once the frenemy has introduced the game, there's no exiting with grace. You either take the dare or fail.

I steel myself against the psalter stand, and I respond with my own dare, which isn't in a psalm, but it might as well be:

No wonder you're not very popular.
Your behavior, friend, is hardly politic.
Mothers don't like you in their houses, for you always seem to bring a storm. Chaos follows you like choirs of angels.
So bring your worst (you have, you will).
I'll be here. Today, tonight, tomorrow.
I won't go to sleep before you, I'll braid hair better, and I'll be dead in the water before I let you win this game of Scattergories—

Love on, I will requite thee.