I’ve found great help in employing the long held axiom, write what you know. But in this exercise of a year of poetry I’ve also found great help in writing what I’m learning, what I want to learn, what I want to understand better. So, I’ve found myself writing what I know: motherhood, nature, sin; while also writing what I’ve read in Scripture, and ideas that I don’t fully understand but want to. It’s proven to be a beautiful way to meditate on Scripture, to turn over ideas in my mind more intentionally before flitting off to something else, to try to bridge that gap that often exists between head and heart. I can’t say it’s led to magnificent poems, but it has led to a desire to dig deeper in God’s Word and let it dig deeper in me; to observe his creation both in nature and his image bearers more carefully, to interpret the world through his lens. And I hope, to love him and his world better.
A Poem of Greeting
Goodmorning, do you hear the songbirds
In their sunrise chorus, rejoicing in the
entrance of the light? I wonder
If we might do well to listen to the
House Wren. Not just her song, but
Her delight in the coming of the dawn.
Goodafternoon, see that basking snake,
Soaking warmth into every scale
And closing its eyes to the world. I
Wonder if we might find a Rock and
Slowly let Light fill us too, with our
Eyes closed to the world for just a moment.
Good Evening, do you smell the dark
Earth? How it turns over death to
Life, how it cultivates rest and patience.
We might learn to make our homes
This way: giving and waiting, and
Learning to die.
Weeds are clever things. Quick to
Spread and taking great advantage.
They’re opportunists, if you will.
Scattering their seed when the wind
Blows, taking root when we’re too
Tired to pull them. Choking out what is
Good and fruit bearing and delighting when
We throw hands up exhausted.
Sometimes the weeds tear our hands
When we pull them. Our knees might feel
The ache, and there are so many. One
Can’t help but ask: is this worth it? It is.
But sometimes when we’re digging dirt
From beneath our fingernails and
Wearied from the doing, the question nags us.
In the deadness of winter,
We forget the promise. But spring does come,
and we see the green sprouts emerge where
We’ve cleared a place for them. We smell
the ripening tomato and the weariness from
Weed pulling, doesn’t seem a chore after all.
Why is it that everything
Goes wrong with flying?
Even the latest Boeing
Is doomed for mechanical failure.
Is that just the nature of human flight?
Metal wings or waxen feathers,
The inevitable is to fall
From where we don’t belong.
A Poem for Curls
I confess, I’ve seen it as a curse.
Unpredictable and big and
Sometimes I wonder if it is my hair
That determines my personality,
Or the reverse.
I too am stubborn, uncivilized, rarely smooth
But [I like to think] beautiful when left
To the air.
I hated it for many years, coveted the straight
Consistent softness that others had.
While mine sat like a nest.
Now though, two curly heads sit in my lap.
I love those twists and springs and
Even their knots, So divinely ordained.
It’s caught up in the juggling milk cups and
Laundry without tripping down the stairs.
But it catches you up when you think of the
Little bodies it feeds and clothes, and really, their souls.
It’s caught up in the reminders and careful don’t spill!
And the mud on the clean kitchen floor.
But it catches you up when you remember all
The chaos and noise are beacons of Life!
It’s caught up in the all-consuming, sleep deprived
Chasing after toddler days. In the drowning in diapers and naps
But it catches you up when suddenly it’s not, and
The house is quiet and empty and the years are all spent.
Like tar, clinging and spreading and
Blocking the light and air and life.
Yet we reach for it even
When acrid fumes warn us of dread.
Like a pool of water deceptively deep,
We tip-toe in expecting to find the
Bottom, but it is an abyss that
Swallows us up as our fingers slip from the edge.
Like malignant cells that spread and
Feed off health until
There is no life left to consume. A
Hidden massacre beneath our skin.
I think of the space of this room
And its category as four walls.
I see limits and endings and
Clear, defined, lines.
But they say that space, as
A thing, as a reality, stretches
Out into time. There aren’t walls
Or limits or endings. And
Lines swirl and stretch and
Bend and squash.
It strikes me, often, how we
Look at a wall and cannot conceive beyond it.
We ask, how can this be? About so
Many things. And we’re content
With the ambiguities
And mysteries of science.
But not so with God. No, we seem to
Think that he must fit in our narrow frame.
We think we, who cannot conceive the universe,
Ought to be able to conceive the One who made it.
We think, we who cannot be just and good
And true, ought to be able to define it.
If we cannot hold Space and Time in our hands
Who do we think we are?
Water, Curses, Fire
Water covered every baby boy.
Imagine the dimpled hands grasping
And finding only air while their
Lungs gasped for it. On this tide
Of wickedness salvation was born
For Moses who floated peacefully
Straight to the hands of his oppressors
Turned rescuers. Who could have
predicted, arms heavy with armor and
grasping for war, would be sunk
beneath another body of water.
Curses, that’s what they called God’s
People. Strained beneath the yoke
Of a man who answered to no one.
You want freedom? No straw for your bricks,
Oil your whips to make them feel it.
Darkness, death, or famine couldn’t
Soften the heart of stone. His knees
Broke before his son’s deathbed,
Still no praise for the God
Who had beaten him, Pharoah’s
Mouth could only utter curses.
Fire that doesn’t consume the
Branches or leaves? How?
Indeed, you are. What else could
Defy the very laws of nature, but the
One who wrote them? Water to blood,
Light to dark, wet to dry. King set up
And king dethroned. It is awe giving,
Fear commanding. This God
who drowns armies, floods with frogs,
and leads his people in a wasteland
toward freedom by a mysterious
Pillar of smoke and fire.