Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Poems for Jesus: #2

So long I spoke to you in thees and thous
And searched for tongues of kings of Camelot
With which to offer praise and swear my vows -
Some words to let a soul uncram its thought!
I prayed, a psalter's rolling sonorous
"Lord Christ, do not desert this heart your home,
And with your presence, honor us,"
But could not say, "Jesus, I feel alone!"
With longing to distill that God-ache blurred
By trite dull rhymes and bare-boned lexicons
I plucked at words my cradle never heard
But wept to find each lovely phrases's bonds:
No simile could make make a Truth alive,
But in that ash, a child's hope's revived.
That language briefly and lowly charms a king,
And simple words in heaven longest ring.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Poems for Jesus: #1

Like a sheet of plate glass before the hurled stone, I pray to be


Surely pain births an unnatural child

An antithesis of being, a damning delivery

A doorway to abyss

On its threshold you ask

with no horror in your voice

inhuman and humane

terribly you ask

oh terribly

that I should will sole and heel across that bar

propel soul into silence utterly

that I might be found by you

and in you be found

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Sun Chasers

Two days ago, I was whipping along the five blocks between Ballston Metro Station and North Wakefield Street in a three degree wind chill without a coat or gloves. By the time I reached the door - I do not lie- the ends of my fingers were indigo black as though I had dipped them in ink wells. I had to run them under hot water in the kitchen for five minutes before they were thawed enough to type.

One day ago, I was schlepping a bag full of damp laundry and high-heeled shoes through quick-falling snow as fine as crystallized sugar.

And last night, Laurie, Connie, Lana, and I got off the plane, shed our coats like dead flower petals, and stepped into Mission-flavored paradise, La Jolla ("the jewel") with its seventy degrees and its perpetual fuschia masses of bougainvillea. We ate pizza Margherita overlooking the Pacific Ocean. We chased the sunset through quiet streets of bungalows and gaudy Spanish mansions. We found it at last, just after it had died into the West, at the cliffs in Ocean Beach. Lovers embraced, prefering the view beside them to the one in front of them; seagulls wheeled on upswept drafts of salty air; surfers bobbed like black ducks in a borderless pond.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Somewhere Short of Suicide

My apartment building has a workout room, or something like it. It's more of a dank, noxiously lit basement wedged between the laundry room and the boiler room. I am thoroughly convinced that legions of cockroaches hold linedancing competitions in the very moment of my departure. To get there, you have to descend a dozen slick stairs underneath a window that looks into someone's shower. The portly gentleman who attends to his personal hygiene there either does not know or does not care about the show that he provides to the neighborhood.

But, it is gratis (I refer to the gym, not the shower show), and there's nothing like the looming spectre of college loans to make a person less discriminating.

Last week, to while away the time on the elliptical machine, I turned on the television to the classic movie station. The gym's cable access is the one thing that elevates it above dungeon status. It was one of those black-and-white, absurdly luxurious European romantic escapades that were so fashionable during the 1930s. (I can feel you glazing over, but please stay with me). Everyone has multiple lovers and endless disposable income. Entering halfway through, as I did, I never caught the name of the film, or even most of the principal characters. But it centered on an American business tycoon who has, for twenty years, been married to a beautiful younger woman. He is an honorable man, a kind and attentive husband. His wife, we soon find out, is a petulant trollop. He funds her on a trip to the Continent, and she falls in love with a philandering expariate. Our honorable American businessman catches wind of her affair and goes to Europe to rescue her before all is lost. He chases off her lover, forgives her, and spends the next three months wooing her all over again. By the time they got to Austria, she informs him thst she wants a divorce; she is determined to marry a Bavarian gallant with a Romantic moustache. Then, she makes her husband wait around for several months in Europe before the divorce can be finalized. In Italy, the betrayed husband is befriended by an American woman that falls in love with him, and we (the audience) are gratified that he has found a woman who recognizes his true worth. It seems like everyone will be happy, but then the wife is dumped by the Bavarian, and she calls asking to be rescued once again. The husband, being of the honorable strain, turns his back on his own best prospect for romance and gets on the boat with her to America. We see quickly that she has not changed in any particular. She was after a tow truck, not an engine overhaul. Just before the boat gets underway, he stands up, puts on his hat, and walks out.

His wife pleads after him, "But don't you love me?"

He offers the stinging reply, "Darling, you know I do. But love has to stop somewhere short of suicide."

But does it? (And now I come to the point.) Up until that moment, our honorable American businessman had been a striking modern Hosea, with a love that loves on faith, when all loveliness is wanting. With that line, he became a man honorable only by habit, a slave in the end to his own happiness.

But love, love worthy of the name agape, must go to the point of suicide again and again. It did go, at Calvary. It does go, in pursuing us. It will go always, to the ends of the earth, believing in the redemption of all things.

There is none of that wretched and weak-willed sentimentality in the statement: "God is love."