We Are the Eighth Day, © Melanie Weidner


Horatian salutation

Reader, here is no know-nothing
muddle-mouth grinning till his time’s up,
       nor this month’s charismatic hotshot—
                 let’s be glad for that.
Nor is it time for deeper, troubled things,
     the heaviness of swollen hands
that knit our sweaters or underfed
teenagers who look like my six year old,
sweet in his warm bed.
                               Shall I go on, then, or end it?

It’s not even an occasion for lyrical
greatness (who can bear or hear it?), or honoring
the slain and scars of veterans
                (how to sustain it?) or excursions
on hermeneutical wings along the Word.
Or less estimable, more complicated forms
                                            of happiness:
breathless days when we became better
                 than ourselves,
                                as if awaking from a dream.

Let other songs bless or curse with big decibels.
I leave this business, such as it is,
to higher-minded poets or tireless annalists.

I sing simply of Love, of grace, and those graces
who are your friends, warm with life and giving
               you grief, playfully—these late evenings in December.
And I sing of such beautiful people, even closer,
safe and asleep nearby, here and there, her
                             and her and him, so pleasing
and peace be with them,
and you too, Reader, you too.



The trailers for Precious suggest a weepy after-school special. But the movie itself turns out to be an honest piece of work—gritty, unsentimental and unconventional.

A Serious Man

It’s 1967 in Minnesota, and life is getting more and more difficult for physics professor Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg). Despite his best efforts to be a good man, a respected member of his Jewish community, a bona fide mensch, the structure of his life is collapsing like the walls of Jericho.


Rest on the flight into Egypt

One day thought’s Gethsemane
Like some personal handicap
Or guilt, will venerate the image
Of its last nativity, will fold
Its wings away and say,
“The bird of doubt has gone today.”

And all the “how could I be
So stupid” habit of the soul
Will harden to a pigment
Like raven’s feathers, painted
And set on an ancient canvas,
Giving up its foreground
To a moment’s peace in that journey
Of escape from Bethlehem of birth.

Just as in David’s “Rest on the Flight
Into Egypt,” an angel having whispered
Of slaughter, “You must leave, Joseph,”
He, knocking walnuts from the tree,
The donkey munching quietly some hay,
His son reaching up for grapes,
A young child’s suffering at play,
Not thinking yet, “I must, they say.”

And Mary, seated on a rock,
After long labor, serene as
Nazareth, building her pyramid.