I blame Sophia.
If Dorothy was quick
her mother was prescient,
only waiting long enough to bind
her barb in space and time,
and so affirm causality.
After a lifetime
mainlining marathon reruns
her spirit rides my soul,
goading me with a beaded purse while
sotto-voccing snide rejoinders
into the minutest caesura of life.
She will not be silenced.
this pillar of faith, loitering
in the House of God turns in his pew
to dismiss these lawless thugs
this servant of community, rotating
my tires warns of their
parasitism and lack of insurance
this bumper of a judge-not worshiper, proclaiming
‘BAN THEM’ throughout the church parking lot
but never, no never, our guns
I am silenced.
‘I don’t know,’ I say to those who ask.
And I don’t. Know.
Why the spires, rifts, domes.
Why the channels, depressions, slopes.
‘Maybe you should’, says my son, ‘build an actual…castle?’
But I know
what those are, and what they’re for.
So they stop to explore these abstralien sandscapes,
at the meaning of my creation, and my purpose.
No plan guides my tremorous fingers that
mold and shape and smooth the forms
that form without me.
Arches fall and towers crumble, collapse under
misplaced knees and thoughtless feet.
These places weren’t meant to be, let alone
last even through a day or night or hour.
They are self-serving, imposing haphazard order
on an idle chaos minding its own business.
God took six days, so they say, plus time to rest,
yet I spare only the morning
because I have other plans.
They, too, are as hasty in their admiration which
so fickley turns to mischievous destruction by
toddlered toes, unleashed paws, and cruelty.
Even seagulls are dismissive of my walls, perching with
prejudice until the structures crack to expose
my lack, and my depravity.
Six days seems equally rash, short-sighted and shrifted
given the scope of eternity, of all the hairs on all our heads.
So we blear and smear and have trod among
God’s almighty spires in ignorance and arrogance,
at His meaning, and His purpose.
Yet He had no other plans and
His fingers do not tremble, and
His walls were built counting on our cruelty to
and expose yet more layers of perfection.
My grandmother would make them,
large-knit in green, red, and white:
thick cables of yarn as cylindrical
camouflage for rolls of toilet paper, or
insulation against pots of chicken and dumplings.
Her shawl reminded me of these,
though white and splotched with dollops of
yellow surrounded by petaled pink and blue.
She wore it each week,
rain or shine, Epiphany or Lent.
(Truth be told, the church can be cold.)
She arrived, shuffling; sat, shuddering,
and her son helped her, lowered her, down.
She stayed, bent, forward over her hands
as we stood shaking hands and sharing peace.
The asterisk asked her to
* Stand if you are able.
Not a command of passive-aggressive guilt, but
suggestion and instruction. A lesson
in humility for those who don’t know or have forgotten:
in worship, in respect, in joy, we stand.
And each week she stood,
rain or shine, Advent or Easter.
Fingers curled and gripping the pew;
not pushed but pulled, drawn, and called
to her feet with patience,
Her son’s hands holding the hymnal.
Strange, to say that a mother
That such a wonder could be mis
-placed; such a love,
It implies guilt and fault,
of inattention in
when there is anything
Though who dares? Who brave or soulless
enough to speak the actual words that
To name the thing? Give face to the fear;
voice to the dark?
Except the curse has fallen
without having been spoken.
A breathless and wordless strike.
No word, no breath,
could have or did have
despite our most loquacious prayers
which, in the end, were nameless.
This loss runs contrary
that our children
innocent and inviolately safe because
we are there, inviolating.
For surely Joseph, just a man,
just a father,
was tense in his stabled vigil,
keeping watch of the sheep and ass and cattle
for signs of sudden movement.
Hooves behind this line because
this child is mine.
Son of God, yes; yet, too, Son of Joseph.
(Who was told the name, but
was he who gave it.)
Sent to protect but, first,
to be im/perfectly protected.
Our protection, in the end, is never enough.
As, in less than a moment, did God speak
so did your soul-spark catch and flame;
soft and sublime.
A light where there had been none.
As, in that un-moment, all that was/is/will be
flowered and filled Creation,
so did you expand and collide in measured beats
And so are you conserved.
Neither created nor destroyed,
neither present nor absent.
What has been named cannot be unnamed.
What dreamed, unseen.
What loved, in the end,