We Are the Eighth Day, © Melanie Weidner


What the angel said

          For Fra Angelico

He spoke to you in blue, in the long call
of light from the top of a Tuscan hill.
Your hand answered, the quick sketch of a girl
taking shape before you knew she was you,
head uplifted, her angelful eyes
sure of what they see: being bodied true
as the stilled wings, the beatified sky.
What words might have passed have passed as air
sighed by the soul in the act of rapture.
Now there is only ochre and thin-skinned cream,
struck gold against the garden’s sudden green,
forever as present as it once seemed,
her hands crossed soft against her hidden fear
and angel’s breath still warm within your ear.


Scots' Form in the Suburbs

The sedentary Presbyterians
awoke, arose, and filed to tables spread
with white, to humble bits that showed how God
almighty had decided to embrace
humanity, and why these clean, well-fed,
well-dressed suburbanites might need his grace.

        The pious cruel, the petty gossipers
        and callous climbers on the make, the wives
        with icy tongues and husbands with their hearts
        of stone, the ones who battle drink and do
        not always win, the power lawyers mute
        before this awful bar of mercy, boys
        uncertain of themselves and girls not sure
        of where they fit, the poor and rich hemmed in
        alike by cash, physicians waiting to
        be healed, two women side by side—the one
        with unrequited longing for a child,
        the other terrified by signs within
        of life, the saintly weary weary in
        pursuit of good, the academics (soft
        and cosseted) who posture over words,
        the travelers coming home from chasing wealth
         or power or wantonness, the mothers choked
        by dual duties, parents nearly crushed
        by children died or lost, and some
        with cancer-ridden bodies, some with spikes
        of pain in chest or back or knee or mind
        or heart. They come, O Christ, they come to you.

They came, they sat, they listened to the words,
“for you my body broken.” Then they ate
and turned away—the spent unspent, the dead
recalled, a hint of color on the psychic
cheek—from tables groaning under weight
of tiny cups and little crumbs of bread.


The Eclipse

The modest Irish picture The Eclipse has slipped below almost everyone’s radar; it’s moving quietly across the country in brief art-house engagements. This contemporary ghost story about loneliness and connection is worthy of attention.

Somewhere Every Day

    (after William Fullerton, “I cannot tell11 10 11 10 D)

From South and East, from West and North they gather,
on foot, by car, in rickshaw, tram, and bus,
health, in wheelchair, in joy, in sorrow,
relaxed, uptight, disheveled, and fastidious.
They come, O Christ, to you, to taste the body
that once for all was slain, to sing and pray
and take a cup whose balm brings life from dying—
throughout the world and somewhere, somewhere every day.

The words they hear when they have come together
are chanted, lisped, intoned, or simply said
and tell in myriad tongues with every accent
of body broken and of life’s blood shed.
Mere words convey a gift of perfect freedom,
a debt of love that no one can repay,
a yoke of new and welcomed obligation—
throughout the world and somewhere, somewhere every day.

The spaces where they meet are huge, resplendent,
or huts and hovels all but falling down,
on Sundays jammed but often solitary,
both nowhere and on squares of world renown.
Yet all are hewn from just one Rock unbroken
in whose protection no one is betrayed,
which lets itself be smashed to bits for sinners—
throughout the world and somewhere, somewhere every day.

The hands that tender host and cup are youthful,
emaciated, worn, and manicured.
They take so little time, they bring so little,
to do a work by which so much is cured.
These hands that bring the Savior near are icons
of hands once torn in order to display
with lines of blood the names who come receiving—
throughout the world and somewhere, somewhere every day.


Biology: Course review

If you forget what axons do,
or how a virus invades a cell,
remember this—

that light becomes food.
That the seasons rhyme,
a different word each time

turning soil into living song.
That all things work together.
Even death. Even decay.

That this is the way
of the world we got: what is given
grows by grace and care

and knows what it needs.
That life is strong, and precarious,
full of devices and desires.

That what we hold in common
may not be owned. Control
is costly. Close attention

is the reverence due
whatever lives and moves,
mutant and quick and clever.

That our neighbors—
the plankton, the white pine,
the busy nematodes—

serve us best
in reciprocal gratitude:
what they receive, they give.

The way the heart accepts
what the vein delivers and sends it on,
again. Again.