Arts+Culture

Arts+Culture

We Are the Eighth Day, © Melanie Weidner

Poetry

Longing, Lenten

The walk back, more loss. When I open the door
it’s over, so I set to piddling: tidy
end tables, check the mail, draw a bath.
The restless energy finally settles
as I pass the mirror. I peer into it.
My nose touches glass. Not much left,
already effaced, not even a cross
to speak of. A smudge. A few black soot stains
like pinpoints on the forehead. The rest
of the blessed ash has vanished to a grey
amorphousness, to symbolize . . . not much.
Except a wish for those hallowed moments
to be followed by sustaining confidence.
Except spirit, which means to shun its listless
weight for yearning, awkward if not more earnest
prayer and fasting in the clear face of dust.
Film

Animal friends

Devotees of children’s literature have received an unexpected lift from the nearly simultaneous release of the new film of Charlotte’s Web, based on the story by E. B. White, and Miss Potter, a biography of Peter Rabbit’s creator, Beatrix Potter. Each in its way is a charmer.
Film

Crime scenes

A dead girl lies in a grassy field. Her blood-soaked body has started to decompose. Who is she? How did she get there? Was the killing a crime of passion or opportunity? And who committed the heinous act?
Poetry

Prayer for Sam Johnson as he writes the dictionary

How can children read, with words
wobbling any way they feel like?
Spelling shows up as speling,
and spelin spills to spleen. Stolen
bases slide to stollen basis. There’s
no Too Far, no leash to keep
the feral hound from escape,
no property line between ideas,
no surveyor to fasten edges.

And if Johnson doesn’t finish soon,
words might wander further into
wildness, soar like index cards
in a hurricane, and scatter
like so much litter. Or worse—
careen like bullets into meanings,
blowing every deal to pieces.

If he finishes, you could be stuck
in a poem entirely on spelling,
longing for rescue from the strait-
jacket they tied us into
so we can read and write this.
How fragile the guide rope of logic
seems between us! How tenuous
sweet mutual understanding!

Sam Johnson, in your stained shirt,
big as Fleet Street, rehearsing
for the thousandth time your smudgy
slips of paper, you’ve never finished
anything on time, you rarely
finish. This is a prayer for you.
But shall I bless or curse?





Poetry

Ash Wednesday

Now forty winters have besieged this brow
that bears the mark of ashes once again,
its shallow furrows yielding to time’s plow
as, on command, I turn and turn again.
With every year the mark goes deeper still
and stays there longer than the year before,
reminding me, despite my flesh’s will,
there comes a spring when I’ll be marked no more.

Yet still I bow and part my graying hair
to make way for the dust that makes us all,
the mortal touch, the cross traced in the air,
the voice that tells me to regard the fall
        that each of us must know before we rise
        and raise unwrinkled brows to greet God’s eyes.