We Are the Eighth Day, © Melanie Weidner


Ordinary time

These midwinter days that bridge
Epiphany to Lent
can seem anything but ordinary
as the steady waxing light reflects
across old December’s glaze of ice,
a biting wind hisses across
the stark bones of the bracken,
and treetops signal sparse
against a sky expecting still
more snow before nightfall.
Scarlet and speckled birds
announce themselves about
the brightness of the holly,
spray from the creek creates
bright frosted chandeliers among
the tangled overhanging branches,
and dusk draws down its spangling
of stars so crystalline they lift the eye—
heart too—toward a principality
that banishes any vestige
of routine predictability.
Ordinariness exists—if at all—
within the desiccated soul,
too distracted by its fearful self
to notice.

Barely making it

Soulful and tough in equal measure, The Pursuit of Happyness is the ideal movie for the Christmas season. It’s a triumph-of-the-spirit film in which the protagonist’s journey from poverty and occasional homelessness to solvency and the promise of a future is so thorny and obstacle-laden that you can’t imagine how he’s going to get there.



      There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry.

                                    –Mark Strand

What shall I do with this book I love
so much I’d like to eat it? Meeting
the poet at a reading, I would cast
my eyes down. I’d walk behind him,
not stepping on his shadow. If he told me
I was half blind, I might lose sight
in both my eyes. At home, everything
I write becomes infected with his
wildness: for instance, this, which
I never planned, which has no ending.

Where shall I put the book, so full of life
my car could barely stick to the Expressway?
When my cold encyclopedias sense
its goofy brilliance, they climb and hang
on one another like Chinese gymnasts.
I must subtract to make a place
for the book to live. I lift out histories,
then other listless volumes. I toss my boring
files, erase the answering machine,
renounce the desk, computer, pens.

Only the illumination of St. John stays.
In my study’s scooped-out heart
I wait beside the book, which glows
with light borrowed from some distant star.
I look at St. John’s face. He gazes from
his throne, his eyes blazing with love
and understanding. Tongues of flame
play over him, sent from the Source
who is both arsonist and fireman,
and in his right hand, he holds a book.


Fall of the empire

The Mayan Empire existed for 4,000 years, from 2500 BC to 1500 AD, and it spanned five modern-day countries—Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Belize. Mayan civilization made significant strides in astronomy, agriculture and architecture, and it prided itself on its colorful art and skilled artisans.

Kingdom come

So she took a look back,
what did it matter?
Her city ablaze,
righteous anger engulfing it.

Would you look if you knew
the Holy Just One
chose your city to demolish—
you children, your friends,

even people you hated?
Wouldn’t their voices cry out
to haunt if you didn’t?

But this is not a story
of redemption,
no gopher wood ark, no rainbow.
This is a story of flood

without water, of ruin,
not forgiveness.
This wife turned her head
to look back and became

the very thing
tears are made of;
crystal, salt,