Arts+Culture

Arts+Culture

We Are the Eighth Day, © Melanie Weidner

Film

Wizard comes of age

In the third Harry Potter movie based on J. K. Rowling’s wondrous series of children’s novels, filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón takes the wheel from Chris Columbus, who steered both of the earlier pictures. It would be hard to think of a director with finer credentials for the job.
Poetry

A religious background

In the year that I was born, at a small religious college
in northern Illinois, witnesses recall how just after dinner
one winter evening, a young confessor sparked a fervor:

forty-two straight hours of repentance, studious coeds
and baseball stars alike, suddenly afire. They were warm
with desire to admit their wrongs to their peers, to make

their sins public and announce themselves godly and free.
I was born not long before those penitents were born
again, before they streamed boldly onto that sacred stage,

became oddly patient and waited their turn in choir
chairs to declare their shame—articulate, eyes wet.
While they wept, I wept too, a generation and states

away, until Mother, who knew nothing of fire or college
or regret, lifted me from cradle to font and rocked me
in an arms-and-flesh theology, both of us quiet now,

neither of us with much, maybe nothing at all, to confess.









Poetry

Please grant mercy, Ella Webb!

Sealed within a windowed tube
that struck me as a giant
chrome-and-ivory jumping bean,

the girl my age smiled
thin as airplane model tissue
through me to her end.

ELLA WEBB! THE GIRL IN AN
IRON LUNG! PLEASE HELP ELLA
WITH YOUR GENEROUS DONATION!

prayed the sign tacked on her tiny tent.

Though scared to drift too near
on the noisy festive sprawling floor
of the ancient armory, I spied dark hair surround her

aging newsprint-yellow cheeks,
feeling guilt with every easy stride
50 years ago this week.

Maybe we gave a quarter.











Poetry

Like rocks

A Desert Father said
that we should be like rocks
in the face of suffering.

I sit on ancient weather-beaten boulders
and hear the wind scraping their surface.
Some have deep crevices, one a crater with a rippling pool.

My face fragments and distorts in its reflection.
Someone has placed small stones neatly around its perimeter,
a gesture of gratitude for an implicit understanding.

Baboons bark in the distance.
I look for them, but I do not see them.
No one ever does in this valley.

I lie back and soak my hand in the chilling water
while rubbing my other hand gently
over the moss-stained roughness of these old silent proprietors.







Poetry

Praise is a language

The young preacher said so and then hurried on and the girls
who had led the praise songs nodded and whispered in the front pew
but wait, I muttered in my head, if praise is a language then what

can we use it to say? How widely is it spoken, and should we maybe
listen instead of talking so much? I have seen praise glowing
in the cornstalks glazed with mud and snow. I have heard

the fine twigs of the sickly high tree outside my fourth-floor
window sifting the buttery wind. I have taken the stairs
two at a time and groped for my key and dreamed that

the language of praise might launch itself across the wide skies,
cross vacuums and voids like radio or photons, carry some
wild packet of data and yearning that would cause the High One

suddenly to relent, to pass out the sports cars and the answer keys,
to sit down alone and together with us all and tenderly explain
the languages of bullies, traffic, RPGs, anthrax, patriarchy

and cholesterol, propound in words glowing and clear the need
for better and more detailed articulations of the High One’s
splendor, grandeur, majesty and might, for the pretty good guitar

strummed nearly in time, for the blond girl who sweetly sang
Father, Father as the rest of us tried to follow the tune.