Many fields, many treasures, many pearls (One chosen). Here, fish netted, many kinds, But singularity is not the point, The point is, good are kept, and bad destroyed. Are these the gentle Galilean’s words? If so, a strange form of gentility: The angels throw the evil in the fire, And there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. O, how we twist and turn and rationalize, Assured Matthew was victim of his time, And heaven’s kingdom never need be forced, And “way that leads to life” is easy, smooth. Shall we amend, then, the Apostles’ Creed: “To judge the quick and dead”? This we don’t need.
I wish that everything could be like this— Sex, for instance. Love. To touch the blood Of someone else by reaching deep in kiss Made holier than kiss, by Jesus made
Into the resurrection of the body, And by the God for whom he is the son. I feel that I was born to do this duty, To place my hand inside of such a one
And gasp. I am the awe of the beloved, Who finds fulfillment in the commonplace, The one who hears the footsteps, sees the face, And weeps. True, some by their belief are moved. Not me. His blood is drying on my fingers. The scene of who he is, and was, still lingers.
My neighbor scrapes old paint from the fence around his pasture, an annual chore he attends to, for he knows the white he applies revives each slat. I think of his recent essay, peeling back the layers, as he said, of online education, revealing a barren base devoid of the body’s subtle gestures— how a screen cannot replicate confusion written on a brow, engagement flashing in the eyes, or a hand touching a shoulder. How a cursor cannot translate the voice’s inflections, nuanced as the nod of his head, greeting me, while he lays down his tool to rub my dog’s ears, while he motions toward the remaining wood, tells how he’ll finish the job before winter.
Nathan Eckstrom teaches English in the Boston Public Schools, one of the most diverse school systems in the country. Its more than 9,000 students come from about 100 countries, and they speak more than 80 languages. Instead of taking a vacation this past summer, Eckstrom went to Haiti to find the places where several of his students live and to visit their extended families. He knows that he will be able to make better connections with his Haitian students after learning about their culture and country. Over the past ten years, Boston teachers have made similar trips to Cape Verde, the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, and other countries. Fund for Teachers, a Houston-based nonprofit, helps fund these trips (Boston Globe, September 12).