Arts+Culture

Arts+Culture

We Are the Eighth Day, © Melanie Weidner

Poetry

If God is your answer

If God is your answer to every question,
   eternal and absolute
   once-and-for-all kind of answer,
   without a doubt,
   no wondering, dithering or hypothesizing,
   no clever juggling,
   struggling, pondering or agonizing
   no raised eyebrow or pursed lips,
   no tilted head with faraway gaze—
   just straight out, eyes glazed,
   one syllable,
   constant and unequivocal,
   you smiling, smiling, always smiling
   sweetly to every question:
   God;
Then,
   all questions vanish,
   all questions perish,
   and you stand like a post
   from one of your fences,
   not even enough of you
   for the upright
   of a cross
   like one Jesus chose at the end,
   facing death, and desperately
   asking the ultimate question:
   God, where are you?
   and hearing nothing,
   resigned to silence,
   said, Nevertheless, I AM
   and died the Lamb
   still with his question.
Now there’s an answer,
   God.
Poetry

The well

I could say you are flame, but you are not flame,
though you race over my limbs
like fire in grass.

I could say you are cloud or vapor or mist, but unlike
these you do not thin or fade
but stay.

I might call you the water that builds unawares in my eyes,
the first light of dawn that ignites the trees,
but then there is the night

when I see differently and you are even more powerful.
You are more steady than any feeling,
and no thought that enters my mind has the dark, rich odor

of forest where you run clear like a stream in my heart.
I can taste you in these words as they form on my tongue.
Yet you are the catch in my voice when I cannot find words

and the quiet spreads through my body intimate and warm
and needs no other language.
Like water to fish, air to bird’s wing, so you to me.

But who are you really?











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.