• The Potential to Fill

    • The Potential to Fill
    • Seventy-Seven
      You kept my eyes from closing.
      I was too troubled to speak.
      I thought about the former days;
      the years of long ago.

      I remembered my songs
      in the night; my heat mused
      and my spirit inquired.

      Then, I thought,
      “To this I will appeal:
      the years at the right hand
      of the Most High.
      I will remember
      the deeds of the Lord.
      Yes! I will remember
      your miracles of long ago.”
    • Hope
      He was the word before that word filled a single ear.
      Before that seven-point Roman face on a
      rice-paper page gave me hope, he was hope.
      He was in the world, walking until his feet were
      just as sore as mine.
      And when he passed I was so busy
      trying to avoid all the filthy outstretched hands
      that I never saw him weep.

      Look how the whole world has gone after him!
      And if they keep quiet, the stones will cry his name!
      They never saw the dirt left under his fingernails from their feet.
      I never saw him standing there,
      long after her fragrance faded from that shirt.
      And as I fall asleep in his arms, I can’t feel my shallow love
      piercing him again, and again, and again.

      I was everything he wasn’t,
      so he became everything I was.
      Shallow love made deep,
      and the space between us is
      the length of my outstretched arm.
      He overcame the world to make sure
      I could find my way back home.
    • Autumn
      Oh, the loneliness of invisible love!
      How I wish the manifestation was as
      steadfast as the source.
      I stretch my limbs up to the sky and hope;
      I can see it in my mind–and how I love
      watching the light in your eyes,
      your delicate freckles dancing around each smile! (but then I’m still replacing him)

      I’m so small (just barely sprouting out from the earth),
      and I already have more distractions than a tree has leaves.
      They make him hard to see, and as they rustle about
      in the breeze, I think it funny that
      such tiny green things can pull me down!
      I sway in the wind he made.

      One autumn day, those leaves will be dead enough to fall.
      I will be left naked and weak.
      But all that is left will be about to come alive.
    • Go. Now.
      Awake, ‘O sleeper, and Rise from the dead!
      But take it from me–that light, that life
      that’s beaming inside you
      won’t be content kept behind
      a windowshade; or a lamp,
      or the deepest grave.
      That restless, burning light
      will beg to pierce the night,
      like a child into the rain:

      Jumping, rejoicing–puddle to gloomy puddle–
      making sure that every drop
      crashing to the earth has a chance to splash
      back into the air where it belongs.

      But aren’t we all like raindrops?
      Sitting in this puddle, waiting to evaporate?
      Say! Perhaps along the way we could
      seep deep into the earth,
      find some lonely root,
      and help that starving flower bloom.
    • Darkness (And the Light to End It)
      It started with a shattering; just outside the open door
      of the room of glass.
      His blown-glass jar had been knocked off the ledge,
      and the creation–scattered into billions.

      The-one-who-broke-the-glass grinned
      and got a birch broom to whisk it all away,
      saying, “I’ll take the pieces and cast them out
      before they slice you like a horned snake
      that bites the horse’s heel.”

      The gaffer stooped down in the dirt,
      and gathered several filthy from the heap.
      He cut his fingers as they closed around
      the sharp, silver edges in the sea of glass.

      He took the broken to his house.

      The gently sparkling specks dissolved
      with his blood and other broken bits.
      The batch, he floated to a window pane
      and set inside a stone.
      Each time he came close,
      he recognized his dim reflection.
    • If Not Miraculous, Then...?
      You carried me across the ocean on six months’ whim.
      I thought I had something to prove, and so, pretended sympathy.
      In my head I gave my life to going back (to serving you).
      I drifted for two years talking about it.
      Sat in the car on the interstate...wept and pleaded and prayed
      for you to let me leave. But nothing changed.

      Your will is like water–steadily dripping, gradually wearing away
      at the hardened earth. Perfecting and carving glorious
      caverns that echo your name.

      You laid life in her womb after seven years effort
      (‘O what rejoicing! What noise, for you!)
      Six months later, we lay fretful and shivering after the ultrasound.
      Too much liquid in that tiny brain.
      We laid hands on her belly each day; wept and pleaded and prayed.
      six months thereafter, the baby was born–
      the solution still in him. Nothing had changed.

      You brought her to me (twenty-three years treading water).
      By the fifth month, I had decided to wed.
      I prayed for your will, and you drove her away.
      I’d imagine and wonder what love was mine.
      Wept, and pleaded, and prayed for
      the empty to end. But nothing changed.
    • Obey, I Say!
      I am a thornbush in Lebanon, sending to the cedar for marriage
      while waiting for a wild beast to trample me.

      “This word endures!” I burst out with a twice-shouted
      (to offset the half-hearted)
      cheer. “We greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible!”
      (and as I proclaim this I think, unobtainable)

      If all flesh is like grass, and it’s glory, the flower
      (the grass withering and the flower falling away)–
      how do I clean the stains from my knees
      that wear holes in my jeans, and scrape scabs?

      So I make moneybelts which do not wear out in my mind,
      while leaving myself to the moths.
      I am spending my days telling children
      to give up belongings. And nights–
      scheming to follow them close,
      and gather their dead droppings for myself.
      I’ve taken my lamp to meet you, sure;
      but with no spare-oil flask.
    • New Things
      “Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields–
      they are white for the harvest.

      “One died for all–therefore all died,
      so we might no longer live for ourselves.
      All this from God, who reconciled
      himself to us! That we might become
      the righteousness of God in him...

      “The old things pass away. Behold! New things come!”
    • Absence Becomes Color
    • On the Day I Loved You the Least
      The moment of feeling before absence becomes color.
      the top of my fingernail against your skin
      (barely, the very brink of the back of your arm).
      I don’t let myself believe it yet.
      Turn toward your taking in and giving out.
      I still haven’t opened my eyes.
      We’ll find mornings together.

      We’ll wrap them ‘round our fingers, and listen carefully.
      these little rings turn to soft-point needles;
      knitting us together with seed-stitched,
      stockinnette, and garter knots.
      They’ll teach us how it feels to stretch and give.
      We’ll find love together.

      We’ll watch that love create
      a whisper of us in our children’s faces.
      We’ll breathe hope & sacrifice,
      and pray it passes through their lungs.
      While our bodies exhale, their love will rise.
      We’ll find always together.