Spit and dirt, said the blind man

when he left Christ’s side
himself no more a blind man
since Christ gave him sight.

Men who looked like trees
the first sight he saw.
Only a former blind man
could see us as we are

recognize how rare
specify how far
apart our being
and our seeming are.

What could he do but stare,
blink away the spit and dirt,
watch Christ wipe his hands
on his blinding white shirt?


Will You harass a driven leaf,
Will You pursue dried-up straw . . .
                                  —Job 13:25

the sun
no longer
under foot
to begin
i pray
you do
the same
the sins
i leave
and not
with those
i keep

A funeral begins at the church across the street

Men and women in black, a few at first and then more, move
quickly and silently across the parking lot, like a slow rain
beginning to fall into the dark mouth of the sanctuary.
A blue jay screams curses from the skirts of a pecan tree.

Then comes the small girl the neighbors call
“the urchin,” who spends each day alone flitting
around the neighborhood like a trapped moth.
She is surrounded by three patchy dogs.

She marches barefoot and chants a little song
about the summer morning, three stray dogs,
and her very own self. She passes between the mourners,
a blade of blue sky cutting through storm cloud.

When she gets home, her mother will still sit like a sea wall
in front of the Trinity Broadcasting Network with a can of beer.
The urchin will go into the kitchen for a glass of warm tap water.
The man in the coffin will still be dead. The mourners

will still gather and be sad. Nothing will be any better.
The jay will keep screaming its malediction on the deep
down meanness of the world. But, look now, for a moment:
the song, the girl, and three loping dogs.


My good neighbor of long standing said to me,
You know, I think that old nursery rhyme,
Row, Row, Row Your Boat, is the golden key
To a successful life. Remember how it goes?

Oh yes, I said, but what about all those folks
Whose boat is leaking, and their oars have
Battered blades and split handles that pinch
Their palms and splinter their fingers at every stroke,
And as far as they can see downstream,
There is crashing white water, great boulders
And perhaps a fatal waterfall ahead?

Ah yes, he sighed. I pray for them every day.
I pray earnestly that they can swim—that they
Know how to swim, he said, pouting his lips
Thoughtfully and nodding his white head.
Yes, they must know how to swim.

If you, God, are my tabula rasa

And I am one of your many amanuenses
    writing letters recommending you,
    then I am free
    to know you as I do
    and write you as I will,
    searching out your ways as I find you
    and longing to trust who it is I find.

But you are who I say you are and not,
    who they wrote you were and often are,
    who I wish you were and I hear Wish again.

So that I, exhausted, resign myself to Eckhart’s
    ecstatic, My me is God, and I am both glad and sad,
    for I turn around and there you are
    and it remains true that I see
    so little of me in you.

Still, no one is searching for me the way you are,
    even as I play my childish hide-and-seek with you,
    until you grow weary of my game
    and like a father with better things to do,
    go back to writing the ever evolving You.

And the silence resumes.