We Are the Eighth Day, © Melanie Weidner


An Education

Set in early 1960s London, An Education is a coming-of-age film about a sharp-witted teenager who falls in love with a man in his thirties. The world he unveils for her is glamorous, cultivated and illicit. It represents an education, but one very different from the Oxford education she had been striving for.


I’ve heard of scuba divers in frozen lakes
with tow lines up to snow machines, idling in the sun.

These divers turn upside down, inflate their vests
to press their feet tight against the underbelly of the ice.

With that false tug of gravity in place, the illusion is complete
and they can signal for a pull from up above.

They skate, I’ve heard, across the bottom of the ice and then,
like me, follow their breath bubbles down: To fall up through
a hole into the sky.


Forgiveness, second verse

                "Nevertheless man, though in honor, does not remain;
                He is like the beasts that perish . . ." –Ps. 49:12

Another fall, another shift
of cloud. One hawk, two

hawks sift the patient or impatient
grace of crows:

who owns the skyward lamppost, who has
air rights to overfly the trees.

Down the road, a stone's throw
from their motley argument, the asphalt

where death's gray squirrel body
lapsed from bloodied substance

to the white signature of

a year, two years ago

this day records in dust
in the hollowed crucible

where mortality erased itself
a newborn chuff of grass.


Jesus climbing trees

Let this, too, be a source of praise,
that trees meet in the park like six-
winged seraphim, stooping low enough
for a boy to find foothold
and swing himself to a crooked seat.

This act of grasping something greater,
knowing that one's weight won't break
the boughs, that weakness allows mastery.
The sudden slip that bloodies the thigh,
the husky bark rasping one's shin,
then the elation of hanging by the knees,
trembling, maybe, but trusting the limb.

Surely Jesus, too, climbed trees in Galilee,
frightening Mary by exceeding her grasp,
then flinging his body from the upper branches
and returning to earth, triumphant and flushed.

He must have enjoyed as a boy the enabling flaw,
must have loved the flesh He knew would fail,
trailing for hours the ascents of his nimble creatures:
the ring-tailed raccoon, the unseen lizard,
the silent beetle, armored and green.